[Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.Matthew 18:2-5
This morning, letting topics cycle through my mind that I may want to write about, I keep coming back to this photograph from Tuesday evening. It’s a beautiful tableau, taken at the end of our granddaughter’s first big ballet event.
Beks, who turned nine this past weekend, could not have been more thrilled. “This,” she said, “was one of the biggest days of my life!”
And of course she looked amazing. All children are beautiful, but Beks shines with a special light. It’s the kind of luminosity I believe God has planted in all of us, but so often we let it dull, or bottle it up, or forget to stay connected to the source of the light.
I have been thinking about this a lot over the past few hours, because, while Beks was dancing her little heart out and shining with such clarity, Rebekah and I were watching a movie that just about took my breath away in terms of sadness, and hopelessness, and the deliberate snuffing out of such lights.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a 2008 film built around an unlikely friendship between the son of a concentration camp commandant and an interned Jewish child. The eight year old boys discover each other when Bruno slips away from the carefully curated environment of his home and goes “exploring”. The story offers a disarmingly unfiltered look at both the horrors of the camps and the lives of those tasked with extermination.
Bruno and Shmuel were the same age as my grandkids. The purpose behind the deliberate extinguishing of these lights was, according to the Nazis in the film, to “make Germany great again” (just let that phrase sit for a moment…).
It makes me think about the lengths to which some are willing to go in order to hate and to marginalize others. Not enough to pursue their own values and priorities, but to deliberately reach into the lives of those they disdain, with cruelty, and to squash them, to extinguish their light.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is more than a historically accurate novel, it is a parable. The story of my granddaughter dancing Tuesday evening, blessed and happy and sparkling with such brilliance, is more than a “this day in history” report from Miami, it too is a parable.
It is a parable that reminds us of the truth that God places a unique, irrepressible light inside each one of us, that this light is the evidence and the image of our Creator, and that God purposes us to shine.
This is how we make America, Germany, England, Bahrain, or any place on this planet “Great again”! We must do everything in our power to let every light shine. Not to repress or suppress any person, any group, any minority – and most certainly not any child; we cannot dim their light; we dare not.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!Matthew 18:6-7
Dance on, blessed grandchild, child of the light, and keep shining – Your Grandaddy Derek