It’s Time for the Polar Express!

Today, in our school, classes rotated through the very exciting S.T.E.A.M.M. Classroom to watch the classic movie, Polar Express, and then worked on wonderful projects that allowed them to learn about wobbling science and critical thinking in a fun and interactive way! We have so much to be proud of with our new school, and our exciting welcoming parish! We have such energy and excitement as we build for a brand new 2020!

Last evening, Katelyn and I had dinner with two parishioners who regaled us with why they love Saint Miriam so much. It was heartening to me to hear as I normally only hear of the objections or dislikes to changes, etc. Very few times does anyone approach me to compliment me on what we are doing, how impactful our ministry and outreach programs are, or how we impact the world in such generous ways. As I sat and listened over such a wonderfully warm and tasty meal, I thought of the things of Polar Express: magic of the season, yearning to be a small boy without the stress of the commercialized season, and loving and trusting in things unseen!

For those who never have enjoyed the movie, the story is simple and magical, is the tale of a boy’s dreamlike train ride to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. Late on Christmas Eve, after the town has gone to sleep, a boy boards the mysterious train that waits for him, The Polar Express! When the boy arrives at the North Pole, Santa Claus offers him any gift he desires. The boy asks only for a bell from the harness of Santa’s reindeer, but on the way home, somehow the bell is lost! Then, on Christmas morning, the boy finds the bell under the Christmas tree, and when he shakes it, the bell makes the most beautiful sound he’s ever heard!! His mother admires the bell, but she laments that it is broken … for, you see, only a true believer can hear the sound of the bell!

Nowadays we are raising children who know too much too soon and put far too much stead in reason and logic. But as adults we learn from scientists who point out again and again that the universe is a mysterious place that goes far beyond our capacity to understand it! In fact, many agree with the mystics in all religious traditions who honor the limits of our knowledge. As the Catholic theologian Leonardo Buff has put it: “We never ‘catch up with’ reality itself. The real nature of mystery always evades our attempts to conceptualize it and escapes the nets of our language and symbolism. Its depths are never plumbed. Mystery is always linked to passion, enthusiasm and all great emotions, in short, to life’s deepest and greatest impulses.”

In the movie, the Hero Boy has reached that critical year of his young life when he is not sure whether to believe in Santa Claus. In the film, he didn’t have his picture taken at the department store Santa; he didn’t send a letter; and he made his little sister leave the milk and cookies out on Christmas Eve. But, by the end of this magical Christmas tale, you will concur with Hero Boy that oftentimes the most real things in the world — the ones really worth believing in — are those we cannot see, only believe in. Mystery always overcomes reason and brings joy to the heart. Now there’s something to celebrate!

Perhaps instead of looking past Saint Miriam, or too critically, or selfishly, or without trust in what is to come, we should celebrate the real mystery and joy that God created us from nothing some almost 13 years ago, and look at the magic we are together for the world who needs us!

Blessed Christmas and coming New Year…. such things to come that will continue to marvel a world in need of place like ours!

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