Saturday, December 21, 2013


Book Illustration by Vlidislav Erko
We are reminded sometimes of important things in unexpected places.  Once upon a winter's eve, at a school holiday pageant, this happened.  In a small village on a small peninsula, reaching out into a mighty lake, a theater curtain rose on a production of Christmas Around the World.  The spotlights shone on a kindergarten class--four rows of children in their bright costumes.  Wiggling, bouncing, dancing, laughing, they stood on stage risers--all except one little boy.  In the front row, he alone sat, his face a study in woebegone misery.  He was brave, not crying--yet.  But clearly, tears seemed only seconds away.  The pageant director, resplendent in her Snow Queen silver and blue, knelt down to talk with him.  All was still in the auditorium as they whispered for a moment, and then the Queen stood, walked back to the front of the stage and lifted her baton.  The boy rubbed his eyes, and sadly looked out at the vast sea of faces.  But he did not move.  For the three happy songs of the class performance, he sat, still as a tiny Buddha.  When the music ended, he rose and marched out with the rest.  As the child's ordeal ended,  I wondered who among us did not want to wrap this little guy in a bear hug, wrap the child we ourselves once were, hug every child in this scary world today, and whisper it's okay, everything's gonna be alright.  Was there anyone in this audience who did not feel compassion this night?   Did not remember, in some distant corner of their mind, a moment of their own--of being different, of being alone in a crowd, everyone brave and happy but us?  Even kings and splendid Snow Queens, I suspect, did not always shine so bright…


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