Reason In The Season
Amid the busyness of the holiday season some, feeling a little “Alfie-like” may ask, “What’s it all about?” Was there really a baby born in Bethlehem? Were there really angels singing to shepherds on a hillside? And was there a pregnant mother riding a donkey led by a man called Joseph into a stable because there was no room at the inn? A couple days ago I saw a church sign saying, “Christmas is not a day but a state of mind.” I liked it but how is it just a state of mind?
Christmas is an experience of the soul or heart, a feeling of release to deep peace. Further, Christmas season features various symbolic events that can teach minds this attitude. The traditional events of the Christian story can enhance this experience.
A year ago I sat with my wife in Kleinhans Hall listing to the Celtic Thunder sing Christmas songs. As the tenor sang “O Holy Night,” I suddenly felt a peace bringing me almost to tears. It wasn’t because Christmas itself is a more holy night than any another. It was because two weeks before the day, I felt it in my mind and deeper being.
There is no hard evidence that the Bible stories about Christmas are literally true. This time of year, the darkest days leading to the winter solstice, reflect possibilities of our seeing or experiencing the inward light of peace. The darkness symbolizes our fears and guilt, sleepless night or daily stress and sorrow we endure too many days of our years.
On Christmas Day, you may feel sick or lonely, tired and exhausted. Perhaps you must work, or deal with the sad death of a relative or friend. Yet amid the darkness the remembrance of a Divine within can bring hope like a ray of starlight.
The Christmas story is an ancient one told in the northern hemisphere over many centuries. Yet the solstice experience becomes as real in Australia as in Finland. Lonely shepherds can be yourself just as the frighten Mary or her puzzled husband Joseph. The virgin birth points to our self-discovery, finding it within ourselves, and awakening by the gift of Love within our deepest desires. For we all are part of the Divine Presence, the Eternal Self, or the “I of Love” within.
May it be felt in you and me this season, even today. Whatever our state in life–refugee, criminal, policeman, president, or the minister/priest arrayed in holy garments, our needs and longings are identical. We want peace, forgiveness, love, purpose, and hope for our days. In silence may we find and feel it, making a holy night, a blooming desert, and burst of new joy to all the weary inhabitants of the world.