First, a Merry Christmas to you all! I hope you can and are experiencing some of the warmth of the season. I have.
Much of it began with me a few weeks ago when we attended the Celtic Thunder/Buffalo Philharmonic Christmas concert at Kleinhans Hall. Sitting there listening to the amazing music, suddenly I realized again; this is not about a baby being born some 2000 years ago in a town called Bethlehem, it’s all about me, the True Me! The awareness remained throughout the show and has only deepened since.
Over the past years, as many of you realize and have read, I have grown to understand Christmas, along with the stories of Jesus, not to be taken literally but as stories to help us realize our own Inward Divinities. It’s like I have known or thought this way for many years but this year, its realization has felt a bit deeper and more liberating.
I am not certain why it feels more real and joyful this year than in others. Perhaps it’s the further distance I have come from being a busy pastor or conducting services during the season. Being years with folks like myself who were taught the stories of Jesus, including his birth ones, as literally true, there was a finer line to walk. This season I really had no one to convince to persuade other than myself!
Last night we attended an area church which was beautifully decorated. A magnificent decorated tree loomed over the congregation lifting spirits. The music flowed superbly with gifted singers and instrumentalists. Liturgy moved along flawlessly with all invited to partake of the sacrament. Yet one thing seemed missing; the idea that all of this was not about a man born of a woman named Mary with her boyfriend Joseph. It is all about us, about what can happen to us during the darkest days of our lives. Symbolized by the winter solstice, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, these are dark days. The darkness represents our worry, unhappiness, the constant judgment of others, seasonal stress and the lack of ability to ever experience joy and happiness without myriads of outside stimuli. The colorful lights, the sweetest music, the shepherds delighted by angels on hillsides; these with many more, however, can symbolize what can be experienced in our own hearts and minds.
For the past few years I have read authors such as Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Tom Harpur, Tim Freke and Peter Gandy as they eloquently suggest the Bible stories can easily and historically be taken as myth. Indeed, they can be seen within cultures winding all the way back to ancient Egypt. I have tried to teach such ideas, with mixed reception to be sure. Some loved the ideas, opening up completely new doors of possibilities. Others despised them and often charged me with most blatant heresies. This season, without many responsibilities to teach or conduct, the beauty of just being and feeling these ancient truths came to rest more peacefully in my mind and heart. It’s like I “woke up” a little bit more.
I thus wish the deeper peace and joy for you all, that amid the darkness of weather and the deeper darkness of death, anger, wars and more rumors of wars, you will be awaken anew to Life eternal. It’s all within you, it is the True You, the Thinker and Observer behind the person you normal think of as yourself. Simply ponder the idea of being completely at peace. Sit with it and feel it as carols and seasonal songs continue to be heard a few more hours. And in the midst of a coming year with all its harsh time/space realities, remember and experience each day the Reality of Spirit, surrounding us all, in Which we all are One.
“Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
But not within thyself, thy soul will be forlorn.”
– Angelus Silesius, 1624-1677
A blessed Merry Christmas and season to all!