My Native American friend has two beloved celebrations each year; traditional Sun Dance and Christmas. Both are acknowledgement of the sacred and mysterious, an immersion and an allowing for inner changes. For my Jewish friend, the holidays are a time for repetition of traditional ways of fasting and prayer, honoring family and heritage, taking time apart from busyness. Another friend grieves at this time as too many memories of loss wash over her, fresh and raw, making celebrating a challenge. Some friends have solstice meditation, others attend midnight mass. All of us pause to worship and reflect, each in our own way.
The Christmases of my childhood held a predictable, familiar rhythm beginning with weekly Advent church services and culminating with the joyous Christmas morning celebration. Our church was filled with dozens of poinsettias, candles, an enormous lighted tree and the choir at its best! At home we baked cookies for weeks. Santa was busy in our curtained off living room – no peeking allowed! On Christmas morning we woke to a beautifully decorated tree with an array of presents for everyone that Santa delivered the night before. Mom cooked a magnificent meal; grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins came for dinner; we wore our “Sunday clothes” all day and Dad and I drove Grandma and Grandpa home through the quiet streets of St. Louis late on Christmas night. I felt a warm glow inside – magical, simple and reassuring that all was well.
Today I still love to bask in that warm glow and recreate those predictable and traditional rhythms. I like to be at home with a beautiful tree, good food and family. I like Advent, the time of conscious preparation; of memories and stillness and reflections upon what is meaningful today. I think about the state of our world, not with a sense of dread and gloom and pessimism, but rather with a certain knowing that our world is, truly, a large family. Everywhere, the members of our family want peace. We want to feel safe in our homes, we want to nourish ourselves with good food, to surround ourselves with loving friends, to be well educated and successfully employed. We want our children and grandchildren to be happy, to live in and contribute to a global community that sustains us all. We want everyone in our family to live with that warm glow inside; simple, safe and loved.
Recently, a pertinent question was put to me. I share it with you for reflecting upon during this time of stillness and of celebration. Here it is:
What question do you go to bed with at night and what passion urges you to get up in the morning?
With this pivotal question in mind, may you give birth to your own wisdom, compassion, and vision. May all our world family be blessed because of your incarnation, your living presence.
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