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Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Spirit of ChristmaHanuKwanzYule?

     I'm feeling rapt today. That's right, I said rapt, as is full of divine light and love. As in my humble heart is overflowing with the pure joy of living. It started at lunch when I was contemplating my apple. I had been frustrated and complaining about trivial things that have no real importance. Thinking about money while I mindlessly picked the crust off my rye bread. Then I took a bite of my apple; debatably, nature's most perfect food. It really is a beautiful thing, the apple. The ovary of the apple blossom, swollen with sugars to nurture the seeds of the apple tree. Each and every seed has the potential to grow into a tree that will bear thousands of new apples with thousands of seeds that have the potential to produce thousands more, that can produce thousands more, and thousands more.....ad infinitum. And here I sit eating this fruit, tasting the sugar on my tongue while the sweet juice lingers on my lips, and I think of the sun. The cells of the leaves of the mother plant that created this most perfect food captured the energy of that sacred star without which we could not survive. The energy of the sun trapped in every bond attaching carbon atom to carbon atom. (I'm sorry....did you forget I teach science?....I didn't mean to be tangental...)
     As I was saying, the sun.....the giver of life, emanating pure energy. How can this not be divine? I don't know to whom you pray. It really doesn't matter to me if you love Jesus and Mary as I do, or if you just concede that there must be a higher intelligence that created us all. How do you not see divinity in such perfections of nature? The ancient cultures worshipped the sun. They saw its divine perfection, and celebrated its return at the Winter Solstice. They gave it many different names, but almost all of them acknowledged the importance of the solstice as the coming of the light. Today, we are in our orbit, the closest to this most heavenly body. Although the darkness will seem unbearable today, tomorrow will bring a tiny bit more light. Day after day, a bit more light.  It is no coincidence that we Christians celebrate the birth of our Savior during this ancient feast week. Jesus is the "Light of the World," the light of hope.
     Lots of people celebrate Christmas who don't believe in His divinity. And you hear lots and lots of people, regardless of their faith (or lack there of) talk about "The Spirit of the Season." Universally, it represents giving.....whether of time, or self or money or gifts. Some people speak of forgiveness as being the "Spirit" of the holiday. Others emphatically insist that you should only be celebrating if you are a believer. But the world is a very diverse place. And I think that God comes to each of us in His (or Her) own way. And so there is no right or wrong faith. Ultimately, most of us who believe in a God of some sort, come to the understanding that whoever your God is, GOD IS LOVE. And the way to a peaceful world is to open our hearts to give and receive that love unconditionally. On December 25, I celebrate the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Yes, it is also Yule, the coming of the light, as well as (this year) part of the "Festival of Lights."And with what little I know of Kwanzaa, I do know that the principles basically acknowledge the importance of being humble and grateful for the gifts of the world in which we live. Isn't that all sort of the same thing?
    Many of you have become disillusioned with "The Holidays." You're frustrated with the materialism, lack of faith and/or hypocrisy of other people. But the way I see it, the "holiday spirit" has nothing to do with other people. The "holiday spirit"..... the Christmas Spirit..... is something I retain in MY heart. I am celebrating the life of my Lord and Savior. I am trying in my own humble way to exemplify His teachings and spread His light and love. But curiously, those other things that people who are not Christian refer to as "the holiday spirit" all fall within His teachings. And so, as far as I see it, His Light shines on everyone who shows compassion, generosity and forgiveness whether they are believers or not.
     I would never tell anyone else what they should believe. I only know what I know. And I can only do what I do. When I take nourishment from that apple, that divinely perfect food, I eventually toss away the seeds. Many of the seeds will not germinate. But if even one does, it has potential to bear fruit that will eventually come to seed, and grow and fruit, and reseed. That's the Christmas Spirit. The idea that when we act in the spirit of goodness and light we might inspire another to do the same, regardless of faith or religious persuasion. We are eating from the divine fruit of love and tossing away the seeds. Some will be inspired and the seed will germinate and bear fruit. Others may not. But all it takes is one seed of goodness and love to germinate with the potential to parent many many more fruits, all of which bear seeds that might be planted. And this is what I believe is the coming of the light. This growing movement of acceptance, compassion, respect and universal love. This is the Christmas Spirit, whether you want to call it that or not.

So Merry Christmas, my friends.  Happy Hanukkah. A Blessed Yule. And Happy Kwanzaa.

Whatever you are celebrating, do just that. Celebrate! Celebrate life and love and goodness and be rapt as you wrap!      

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