Everyone believes in something. God, man, saints, friendship, love, justice, decency or 'that there is more', 'that it will always work out'.
The last month I was again confronted with this considerably. Firstly, we celebrated -as always- the Sinterklaas feast and I was allowed to walk the streets and the doors as a good saint. In that context, I have been giving workshops to group 8 at a primary school for many years about this special saint: Saint Nicholas. My experience: the faith of these young people (11-12 years old) is not far to find, but it is there for the taking. Even if they say to my question: who does not believe in Sinterklaas, none of them wholeheartedly YES. They are no strangers to some embarrassment with the question and with the answer. With a little good will, the undersigned drags them into that other world of the inexplicable and the permissible. And behold, faith comes back to life ...
A second experience: I was sitting in the theater with my wife Lidy on December 2, enjoying the performance 'Heart against heart'. A cheerful play about the preservation of friendship and the power of money. Two befriended couples have agreed for a pleasant evening; one of the two couples announces that they are separating. Everything it seemed it was not. This puts the mutual relationships in all forms under pressure and the four decide to throw it open and say everything, but also everything, to each other. Sometimes shocking, sometimes hilarious. The belief in friendship seems to be filleted into a false connection where honesty does not really last the longest ... Faith must be cleared of blockages in order to give real friendship space again.
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Crisis of faith
If you discover as a child that Sinterklaas does not exist, your entire December world can collapse. Nothing is what it seems anymore. 'They' lied to you (what is honesty?) And that which you could previously leave as inexplicable in the mystery demands cold explanation and exposure. You want to understand it now. Your faith enters a crisis, because somewhere you still cling to that mysterious and you cannot yet master all explanations. At the same time, there is no going back now that your belief in the existence of Saint Nicholas has disappeared.
The same thing happens with friendship. “Once you draw the conclusion, friendship is an illusion” the Charity sang years ago. Wise through harm and shame, the value of friendship can end up in the scrap heap and be squandered. Unless you want to fight to fix the flaws in the relationship and keep the friendship alive instead of throwing it away as a consumer item. Friendship requires personal maintenance. If you lose faith in this, you will be damaged yourself.
In 'Heart against heart' money turned out to be a block to friendship and love. The rich youth of the play did what he could not do in the Bible: to squander his entire capital on the stock exchange to get himself and the friendship back. From the longing for what life is all about - friendship, love - putting money overboard and normalizing relationships, this is: overcoming the crisis by maintaining the belief in the ultimate value. You know that it comes down to ...
Believe in God
What is faith in God worth if it is not in people? In recent decades we have struggled with a crisis of faith and a crisis of the church. The crisis of faith is substantive. As late modern humans, can we do without God? Easy. Are we no longer passing on our faith to our children? Less. Do we still believe that God guides our lives? Difficult. Which values ​​have we upheld and which ones have been squandered? Young people, students, are also looking for answers to these questions. Are often the children to whom little has been passed on. Certainly not when it comes to mystery, eternity or inexplicable presence.
More and more, however, I sense - also within myself - that the realization that life has been given and that the world is more than what I make of it helps us to keep believing. To realize that there is more than us humans. To feel that there is something living in us that is transcendent. To know that Someone entered into a relationship with me before I was alive. That we as human beings live in such a long history, stand in so many traditions, with so many important norms and values ​​... to make you think again. Sometimes faith has to be cleared of blockages in order to see again what life is really about.

Like a child of heaven and earth
Stillness is also what happens to me when a child is born. The non-self-evident, the miraculous, the accessible, the living and the life-giving move me and make me believe again and again. In life. In the prime of life. With all its mysteries, the inexplicable, the connections, the relationships, the love and the friendship, the divine and the human.
At Christmas, Jesus, the anointed one, is born. Like a child. From God and from everyone. Referring to heaven and to earth. Giving life and life-giving. For God and for us humans. Can we still believe in this? That He is coming? That He wants to be there for us? That we can open up to this? Yes, I do.
God is reintroduced at Christmas every year as coming NOW and put into operation NOW. This is how Our Lord works, and that is how we want to know Him near. A God-with-us. Life-giving from an inexplicable reality, which is so intertwined with our reality. If we can continue to open up to that, then we will be fine with that belief. If we can inspire in workshops and show what our life is really about, then it will be fine. Sinterklaas and the theater help us with this.
A Merry Christmas and New Year to everyone of good will.