Princess Baby Jesus: A Toddler’s Witness to the Resurrection

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Baby Jesus Reigns

My last post, #thatmomentwhen, was a story of one person’s experience of Resurrection. A good friend of mine from graduate school contacted me after reading it to share a wonderful story of her own. I asked her if I could share her email here and she agreed. Disclaimer: The original email has been slightly edited and names have been changed to protect the adorable.

Dear Keith:

I try to read your articles whenever I see a new one pop up on Facebook; I really love following them to see where you are and what you’re up to. The last one I read was the one about realizing the Resurrection, so I thought I’d share my little story to give you a smile.

 

First, a little background on my little one: Molly loves going to Mass because she gets to see “Princess Baby Jesus,” as she calls him. In fact, she is a little obsessed with the big statues of Jesus, Mary (“Baby Jesus’ Mommy”), Joseph (“Baby Jesus’ Daddy”) that hang in the sanctuary. In fact, Molly and I spend time each day looking at the pictures in my wedding album just so she can catch a glimpse of them.

 

At our church we have a crying room with the requisite glass wall and closed circuit TV which shows what’s going on in the “Big Girl Church,” as Molly calls it. Like the sometimes-desperate parents of any toddler, we use bribery liberally and tell her that if she’s good she can go into the “Big Girl Church” and see the object of her fascination, “Princess Baby Jesus.”

 

During Lent, Molly was very upset because in our parish they remove the statues and, therefore, “Princess Baby Jesus” had been missing. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Molly screamed as we left the crying room and went up for communion, “Where is Princess Baby Jesus?!”  While cute, it was also embarrassing, of course, and we placated her with some story about Princess Baby Jesus visiting the other boys and girls at other churches. In truth, I forgot all about this because sometime during Lent, Molly dropped it.

 

Since we were visiting family for Easter, we were back at our own church this past week for the first time since Lent ended. As we left the crying room and headed into the “Big Girl Church” for communion Molly began to shout excitedly. “He’s back! He’s back! I see Princess Baby Jesus!”

 

I thought of your article and smiled, thinking that even my princess-obsessed toddler is one who can witness her own Resurrection, albeit inappropriately loud and a week late.

 

I just thought I’d share, and let you know we are thinking of you.

 

Love,

Liz

Liz writes that Molly’s realization was “inappropriately loud and a week late.” In that description I hear the voice of the blushing parent, trying to corral an unwieldy toddler in a poofy dress down the aisle of a crowded church as if in a gauntlet. (Incidentally, I want all such parents to read this post again!) But her throwaway comment raises a good question for all of us: who defines the appropriate response to Resurrection?

One of the wonderful things about children is their total lack of inhibition. More often than not, kids just say what’s on their mind, giving voice to thoughts or feelings that most adults push away or swallow whole. Children are not self-conscious and restrained–no, they learn that somewhere along the way, and there’s a poverty in that learning.

It strikes me that Molly was just giving her honest reaction, a response that came from somewhere deep within her that bubbled up to the surface and insisted on being spoken and heard. Her words, like many uninhibited responses, were inappropriate to the setting and imperfectly timed, but only if you accept the definitions of ‘perfect’ and ‘appropriate’ that this world insists upon and teaches us to observe–like ‘coloring inside the lines’ or being a ‘good girl.’

But if the Resurrection is revealed at all, it seems to me that the only fitting response is the uninhibited one, for there’s no wrong time or way to claim and proclaim #thatmomentwhen hope is realized and joy returns. The uninhibited response–the excited scream, the tears, the wild gesturing to a beloved friend lost and found again–is perfectly appropriate in the eyes of the God who knows our longing, who desires our joy, and who comes to claim us again in love.

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The cover image, from Flickr user LinksmanJD, can be found here.

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