Friends, as we approach the long darkness of the year, here in the Northern hemisphere, it is good to consider the season.  There is a paradox of what is spiritual and what is physical.  We live in the truth of what we experience in our senses and our spirit.  Although we acknowledge this paradox in many different ways, it fills every school: public, charter, private, faith-based.  An exploration of it matters for us and for the children we care for, teach, and serve.

Celebration is Physical

One thing I notice, especially at this time of the year, is that children are so concrete and physical.  They are in their bodies so much more than I am.  In the classrooms, their wiggles, noises, and movements are so pronounced.  When the music comes on, they can’t help move.  The food, candy, and treats of the season are tempting them and drawing them.  The lights, paper, and ornaments enchant them.  The fragrance of soup and cider fills the air.  So much of this season is experienced in a child’s body.  As they grow, this becomes less obvious, yet, even the big kids relish in this season of the senses.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

Photo by Beatriz Pérez Moya on Unsplash

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

Celebration is Mysterious

Learn Forward schools know there is also an essential spiritual and mysterious journey and we use a simple word to describe it: faith.  However, often the journey feels anything less than simple. Our words fail us. It becomes impossible to describe and still, we try over and over.  Some of us are more certain than others.  It is less about religion and more about love.

For sure, at this time of year especially, we are aware of something especially mysterious and transcendent drawing us forward, lifting our hearts, and making us sing.

Physical and Spiritual

We hold the paradox, both physical and spiritual.  The child leads us.  Even in the Christian Christmas story, we see “The Word became Flesh…”

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

Four simple words anchor my advent meditation this year.  I sit with curiosity about this paradox. I understand, in a limited way, “The Word” to be Jesus, God himself, spirit, universal power “became flesh” by stepping into humanity, as a baby, a child, in a physical, embodied state.  Again, words fail me.

And still, I am profoundly moved by this idea: spirit embodied.  It resonates with me, I am both physical and spiritual.  Then, so are the children I am raising, those I serve, the ones savouring this Christmas season.

The Spirit of Our Experience

The fact that God embodies flesh, this spirit of love takes on a human form with those human experiences, offers me true hope.

“In his body lives the fullness of divinity, and in him you will find your own fulfilment.” (Colossians 2:9–10).  

Children’s hearts hunger for the embodiment of love, acceptance, and worthiness.  They need to see it in the smile, feel it in the hug, and be certain it is there if things get rough.  This time of year, regardless of religious affiliation or beliefs, children need to know the sweetness of love in the flesh.  So, we absolutely design the journey so everyone is invited and celebrate the diversity of faith journeys we find, sharing together with full surrender.

Somehow, the Christmas story welcomes me into a mystery where love and the spirit of God become flesh.  It is embodied in me!  Joy to the World!!

For the sake of the children,


P.S.  Follow the Learn Forward blogs throughout the season, as Mr. Jeff Harshad Thomlinson, co-founder of Take a Breath for Schools, yogi, spiritual seeker, mentor, and friend to join me in this deep inquiry of “Word Became Flesh.”