As we draw towards Christmas we may look at the story of the Nativity and wonder about its significance outside of religious thought. For me, the Nativity is a human story, perhaps one of humanities most important stories; a story about the importance of witnessing a child.
The Jesus child is born in the most humble of conditions, a stable. Those who visit the babe, the simple shepherds and the three Kings, represent two streams of humanity. The Kings when meeting him fall to their knees; they bare witness to the child and bring him gifts. As we know kings never usually fall to their knees, but in this story they do. They come to witness the birth of a child, as do the humble shepherds.
All new born babies have a natural reaching out movement; their very survival depends upon it. And as they grow the young child asks, on a daily basis, to be seen, to be witnessed. We have all experienced young children demanding to be acknowledged: "look at me in the tree," "look at me on my bike" etc. We have all been children and have possessed this need for acknowledgement and witnessing by another.
When a child reaches out time and time again but are not received, what options then are available to them? The way many survive is to go into the longest hibernation of the soul and stay there until it is safe to re-emerge. For some this can take many years as it can only happen when the individual feels sufficiently secure. I have worked with many a person who has been in hibernation for most of their lives. It seems that this very hiding preserves something very special in the individual, it protects who they essentially are and when the time is right and they feel able to show themselves, they peep out.
So as we draw towards Christmas, we may look towards the child, our own inner child; the part of us that came into the world with wonder in our eyes and trust in our hearts; the part of us that needed witnessing. Perhaps we can give that part of ourselves a place as we look towards the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree and find some light in the darkness this winter.