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What Child is This?

"The Nativity" By: N.C. Wyeth (1912)

Date: December 14, 2022

By: Ana Maria T.

I start this piece sitting in my bed, invoking the Holy Spirit, and asking Him, “Holy Spirit, how do you want me to start?”. For a few months now, I have been thinking of this piece and wondering what I would write about. Though not exactly sure what, I knew I wanted to write about children. I am in the middle of completing a Montessori teaching certification, so children have naturally been on my mind and heart. However, as I am sitting, I am struggling to know exactly what to write about. Over the past few days I have attempted several topics, but nothing has felt quite right yet. So much, yet so little to say. It hasn’t helped that I feel I am on a tight deadline (I am), and as my deadline draws closer, so have feelings of fear and anxiety that I won’t have anything written in time for the due date.

So, I woke up this morning, feeling rested and with a few minutes to spare before heading out for the morning. With a rested head and fresher ideas, I decided to give my piece a chance, and see if I could get something going. Nothing.

Gah. Very little progress. I placed it in God’s hands, and in an act of surrender headed out for the morning, trusting that the piece would be written and God would provide.

God blessed me with His peace as I drove to the school where I am completing a teaching practicum. If anything, spending time with the children would probably help bring some direction and insight to my piece. And it did. It was quiet and simple, yet beautiful and profound. God helped me witness the children. At the school, I am mostly an observer. (Maria Montessori has helped encourage this in me). Observation, she has taught me, is the basis for everything we do with children. And this morning was no different. I was there, observing. The children started coming in the classroom, as they always do, one by one. Each in their own time, at their own pace. Some excitedly, others sad. Some fast, some slow. Some knew exactly where they were headed, others had to do some wondering before getting where they wanted to go. Some came in with their indoor shoes on, others had to be reminded to put them on. Some needed help, others didn’t. Each came in as they were. And they were all in different “places”. Each unique, each different. Each struggling and each becoming.

I marvelled at each of them. I pondered this delight as I continued to observe them. I delighted in them despite of them being happy or sad, restless or calm, working or not. My delight for them didn’t seem to diminish as they “became”. As the tired became alert, the sad became happy, the happy became angry, the angry became calm. On the contrary, my delight seemed to grow. “These children are amazing.”

My journey with children has been one of surprise, wonder, healing and revelation. The more I learn about children, the more I learn about myself, and the more I learn about God.

By seeing who children are, I see who I am; who I want to become, and who I was meant to be. Catholic Montessorians who have spent time observing children have observed certain traits that are particularly prominent to children[1]. After much observation they have observed that:

  • Children are small.

  • Children absorb what is in their environment.

  • Children learn best through repetitive work of their hands.

  • Children are drawn towards what is most essential.

  • Children want to be oriented to reality.

  • Children are filled with awe and wonder.

  • Children are attracted toward the beautiful.

  • Children are filled with joy.

  • Children have a deep desire and capacity to be in a loving relationship.

Children are filled with needs. They are also filled with questions. With capacity, and with potential. Though we as adults have grown and developed, I believe we are not much different from them. We too are small (though not physically). We are yearning for that which is most essential, that which is real, that which is beautiful. We want to wonder and be filled with joy. Our environments matter. We want to experience life, and we desire to be in a loving relationship. Not much different from children, we are also filled with needs and have deep questions that we are yearning to have answered. We are filled with capacity and with a potential greater than we can imagine.

God delights in us in a far greater, far more perfect way than I delighted in the children in my classroom this morning. He is present to us regardless where we are or how we are. In our comings and in our goings, in our weeping and rejoicing[1]. No matter our state, He is always there, loving us and delighting in us with the heart of the Father.

In Jesus Christ, God became man for us so that we would know His love for us. He became a child for us. No different than us, yet exponentially different. May we ponder this mystery in an ever-new way this Christmas. What child is this? [2]


[1] Garrido, Ann M, Mustard Seed Preaching. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Publication. 2004. [2] Bethel Music. Lyrics to “The Blessing”. Bethel Music, 2020, [3] William Chatterton Dix. Lyrics to “What Child is This”. 1871.


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