Crystal snow crunched beneath my boots
as I pulled a sled of tasty treats to the chuck wagon. Sounds of childrens’ excited laughter echoed across a glistening lake and ocean. A look of anticipation and excitement shone on Landry’s face as he stood at attention, ready for his role as a centurion soldier. The smell of hay, animals, and manure filled my senses while Muffin the pig pushed her snout into my leg, eagerly exploring for a snack and hoping for a back scratch. Eloise, the young Mary, tenderly stroked the muzzle of King, our pony, as he feasted on a few treats before their humble entrance into the arena.
Every one of my senses was fully engaged as I experienced the Living Nativity put on by the Farm and Ranch after school kids at the Kodiak Baptist Mission. Many years ago, on New Year’s Day in Hawaii I sat on the beach and prayed over the New Year, my kids, and family. As I sat with my toes in the sand, felt the warm rain on my cheek, breathed the fresh, salty air, and marveled at the waves and mountains, I felt alive. Truly alive. Every sense was fully engaged. That became my prayer. I wanted to live alive, fully engaged, every day. This prayer continues to guide my motivation as a lifelong learner.
My father-in-law always called himself a keen observer of human behavior. As a pastor he used those keen observations to aid in his counseling and ministry. Pastor Jones knew the importance of being known and seen and he understood the links between observation, being known, and the ability to make connections.
While I was experiencing the live interactive narration of the most holy of nights I too was a keen observer:
*There were smiles, hugs, and shouts of Merry Christmas and how are you resonating across a white, sparkling coral.
*Kids pulled their parents into the barn to show them their favorite animal.
* Proud faces of kids and parents beamed at being part of a life-giving and fun experience.
so noticed a blue sweatshirt. A hood pulled over a head, making a face not as recognizable and connection harder. It was worn by a young man with the important job of keeping the spotlight on the right characters in the story. I noticed at the end, amid the chatter and clamor to see the animals in the barn, a crumpling of the blue sweatshirt. A side hug given to him by Ms. Kelli, his farm and ranch teacher. It was a small thing. Not much to notice really. But I knew it meant much more. At that moment a connection was made. Being seen, being known was squeezed through a blue hoodie that was good at keeping so much out.
The cardinal points of The Compass Classroom are Jesus, holistic play, and exploration. I observed all those last night at the Nativity. They were brought to life through connection.