As we near the close of the Christmas Season, beginning with December 1 (well, actually late September for many…) we have heard a lot about baby Jesus and his birth in a little town of Bethlehem. I’ve heard ministers say, “Without Jesus and Bethlehem, there would be no wonderful season of Christmas, for He is the reason for the season!” Really?
No one really knows when a baby named Jesus was born. A short Google search reveals the word “Christmas” came from the church in 1038 as first being called the “Mass of Christ.” As to the day of the month, there were various suggestions for centuries. Around 200 CE Clement of Alexandria suggested it might be May 20 but suggested no year. In the early formation of the official 4th Century Church under Emperor Constantine, no mention of Christmas or the birth of Jesus was listed as one of the required festivals. Finally around 750, the occasion of Jesus’ birth was suggested to be around December 25 since it was a time when many ancient solstice festivals were still being celebrated.
Thus we don’t know when a person named Jesus was born, or as some argue, if the whole story just came from ancient pagan mythology. So what is the season of Christmas about? I think of it as about who we are, the true you, or the True Self, the inner Christ Self, the Atman, Deh, or whatever name you might want to call that which is the I Self. In this understanding, I view the whole season of darkness, at least in the northern hemisphere, as a time to think of the darkness and mortal nature of the world and universe in which we exist, or think we exist. Within this darkness of seasons the light begins to return, which symbolizes our awakening from the darkness of our mortality and the surrounding universe. Thus stories about a Virgin Mary, coming from a poor country town on a donkey, giving birth in a humble smelly stable, attracting even Wise Men from the East bringing their best gifts, typifies our own journeys of search for ultimate meaning and joy. It arrives when we “give birth” or awake to that which is immortal within the mortal, giving us the potential to grow in detachment from mortality to a vision of ourselves as spirit, immortal and at one with the All.
Yes, it’s very mystical, unseen in the usual sense, but felt, experienced, and known in living with a remembered detachment from all that binds us to mortality and death. It is known and has potential to be known by all classes, races, and even religious structures which have “formulated” it out of existence by its teaching of a fearful God and our mortal selves as sinful and offensive to the Fearful Idea.
So spend time in quiet, the “Holy Silence” of night, awaiting the Star with its “Presence within”. Welcome it in, beyond any mortality you might see yourself as or be given. And suddenly in the bleak mid-winters of our lives, you and I will know, feel, and dance across the fields like drunken shepherds. We have discovered our True You.