I always look forward to the winter holidays.
As we approach the end of another year, I wanted to reach out and wish all my friends and colleagues: Christian, Jewish, Muslim and all others a happy holiday season. I have always believed that all great truths are universal and not bound by the parameters of any one point of view. The spiritual similarities across cultures and countries have much more in common than not. After all, my own belief system begins with and intersects with another faith. What unites us as human beings is much more powerful than what divides us. We are all in search of answers to the big questions of life.
Sometimes the story is told in separate ways, but I’d like to think that each of us are all aspiring to become better versions of ourselves and lead meaningful, happy, and fulfilled lives. We all want to find the spiritual light within ourselves whatever that may end up meaning. Of course, good people can disagree as to the connotation of things. There are many yet unsolved mysteries that humble us all. My chosen spiritual journey may be different than yours, but the ultimate purpose is the same. I hope you reach the destination you are striving for while fully appreciating the process of getting there each step along the way.
This year I am sharing excerpts from a book, Holidays and Holy Nights, by Christopher Hill. I hope there is something within this text that resonates with you regardless of your individual faith or perspective:
“There is a way known in Christian spirituality as the via negativa – the way of emptiness or holy darkness. The old spiritual writers described it as the “opposite of senses,” by which they meant distractions of the world. The via negativa is very much like traditions from India that call for emptying the mind. The Christian tradition has a distinctive emphasis, though, and that emphasis is love. The mystery that waits in the darkness, the timeless moment that Christmas midnight represents is somehow love…
People sometimes cry as they sing “Silent Night” at the end of a Christmas Eve service. Their five-year old selves, the little mystics that live inside them stir to life again and tear away the cobwebs that have shrouded their hearts over the past year…
Sacred times are not necessarily extraordinary fairy-tail moments or spectacular altered states of consciousness. They are not given only to special people; they are not unusual. You live them every moment, even right now…” A people without a history cannot be redeemed from time,” T.S. Eliot wrote, “because history is a pattern of timeless moments.” It is your history, made up of nothing but timeless moments, that redeems you from time.
In the same way, as you go through the holiday, sacred time happens whether you feel it or not. You bustle through your obligations, right up to maybe past midnight. Rest assured that above you, under you, inside you, the moment is happening. “The movement of this silent cataclysm,” as Thomas Merton says, goes on. Sometime in the holy night something new happens, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…”
…Christmas Eve is when everything hangs in the balance for Ebeneezer Scrooge, the night he sees a ghost and faces of his own death. It is a last-minute impossible rescue from certain darkness. This is another theological truth that children know. “But in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” It translates here below as profound peace. Something enormous is going on, but it means us and our loved ones very clearly. It is just downstairs, by the tree, by the fire, just outside your door, in the sweet starlit darkness…”
Let’s all strive to understand and be better to each other this year regardless of our political beliefs or philosophical or cultural differences. The world is a beautiful and remarkable place. Our individual destinies are linked as never before, and we can do so much good for one another when we put our hearts and minds into it.
My best wishes for a peaceful, fun, safe and loving Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and anything else that is important to you at this time of year! I also want to wish you a Happy New Year! I hope that 2018 is good for you and your family. May your triumphs far outweigh your tragedies, and your close relationships continue to grow deeper with time like a fine wine.
All the best,