artist: Sharon Visker
This ornament portrays Max "living the wild life." He is wearing a crown, because the Wild Things have declared him "the wildest thing of all," and bowed down to him. That's an interesting turn of events. Realistically, Max is a small child, about a quarter of their size, without a "terrible roar," or "terrible teeth, terrible eyes or terrible claws." These enormous beasts could literally rip him to pieces, yet they bow to him and proclaim him their ruler instead. Why is this? Max answers this question himself, when, after being crowned the King of the Wild Things he cries "Let the wild rumpus start!"
The Wild Things do not actually control us, rather, we control them. They have to have our permission to act. We have to participate with them. This is a fundamental reality that Jesus spoke of many times. Keep in mind, however, this refers to our interior state. We certainly cannot claim to be able to control most of the external world, be that nature, other people, or just life circumstance. Just living life teaches us that truth. But we can control our inner state. We can decide how we react to what is outside of our control. Easier said than done. Simply put, if our interior life is filled with untamed Wild Things, how else but with wildness will we react? Hence the need for prayer and the sacramental life.
This is how we recreate and transform ourselves from being filled with Wild Things to being filled with the Holy Spirit. Recall the words of Christ, "Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him." (Revelation 3:20) As this story continues, we see Max do just that. He turns away from the Wild Things because he realizes that his desire to be with the one who "loves him the most" is greater than his passing desire to live a life without discipline. He moves from being childish, to being childlike. And he returns home to find his supper waiting for him, "and it was still hot."