Christmas Eve

A cloudy morning with a flurry passing by now and then. It is seasonably cold following two storms of snow and ice. The snow lies deep across the land, promising a white Christmas. Christmas music, much of it bad, fills the airwaves. More snow tomorrow; snow on Christmas Day is a meteorological rarity here even though historically we have white Christmases about 75% of the time. Tomorrow is Christmas. Jennie and I are trying to work out Christmas sans little ones. Without kids as guides I struggle to find my way through the vast forest of consumerism to anything approaching reverence, mystery and awe. Although I realize Christmas day marks the first day, after the solstice, one can detect the sun’s trajectory rising in the sky, my heart firmly rests with the solstice and I must work to create a space for Christmas.

Friday evening we gathered, with those friends who managed to make it through the snow and flu to reach our home, to celebrate the solstice and thankfully acknowledge Grandfather Fire.  The evening was dark and the house bright and warm, the fire blazing in the hearth. As we sat with Grandfather we acknowledged that his presence in our lives is complex, sometimes seemingly destructive as he clears the way for new growth. We also remembered that our experience of Fire largely depends on our attitude towards him and the living world of which he is an integral part.

When I stop for a moment and think about Christmas, my frustration softens. The Christmas story is one of hope in a time of quiet desperation, of resistance in a time of tyranny and cultural genocide. Jesus’ birth in a manger in a stable, an entry into the physical world completely lacking in status, barely noticed, points to the way profound change can begin quietly, almost invisibly. Herod’s rage and terror, and his destruction of babies, the hope of the future, point toward the desperation and ruthlessness those in power may exhibit when they realize change has taken root and threatens their power.

It is a story that resonates across the years, especially with Indigenous people. No wonder my father held it so close.

This day, and night, we await the coming into the world of long promised light, and with it an end to tyranny. We prepare ourselves to become vessels for the light in the radiant darkness, filled compassion, a commitment to justice, and awe. May our hearts and spirits be receptive and may we care for one another in the inevitably difficult time of personal and societal change that must come with the return of the light.

 

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23 thoughts on “Christmas Eve

    • Irene, we had adult kids join us for Christmas which was great fun. I also developed a sinus infection which has laid me rather low. I try to avoid antibiotics but must say I am grateful for the ones I am now taking! Anyway, I hope your holidays have been sweet.

      • Good to hear, that you had much fun in your Christmas, Michael.
        Less good that you have sinus challenges. Sometimes antibiotics are necessary, even if we would like them not to be.
        Wish you will feel better very soon and Happy New Year to both of you.

      • Hi Irene, I hope this first day of the international year finds you well and well connected to others.
        Yes, antibiotics still have their uses, and I am grateful to these. It always takes a while for them to work for sinus infections so we shall see what happens. In the meanwhile, I do feel better, thanks.

      • Thank you Michael, I have had a good and thoughtful day.
        Good to hear, that the antibiotics are working, even if you could wish it more fast. I was fed with antibiotics of different kinds for my two month at the hospital in the summer and later twice again, because my immune system demands time to be build up again. I prefer to avoid these, but in this case, they saved my life. Take good care of yourself and stay warm.

  1. Hello MIchael! Merry Christmas!
    I always loved to read your writing, but I haven’t been on WordPress much in the past year. I was in a car accident in late September 2016 and this changed a few things for a while. I don’t recall the actual accident–all I remember is a loud roar and then nothing. No angels, no bright lights, nothing but silence.
    I was knocked out for about 15 minutes, and awoke to a damaged pancreas, lacerated liver, internal bleeding, and a pelvis fractured in 2 places. I’m a little too old for this kind of body-jarring experience, so my creativity and my ability to sit were also damaged for quite a while too. I’m doing my best to come back around. Kind of amazing that I am still in this world. I can’t help but wonder WHY.

    • Hi Mary,
      I think there is much to be gained by asking why. Jarring experiences are certainly a part of this journey, although I think I would avoid them if I could. Severe car accidents and other health emergencies do have a way of rearranging our priorities. An accident such as yours would take even a young person many months to recover from. A few years ago I had four surgeries in about six months. They were all outpatient surgeries and it still took almost two years to recover.

      I had one near death experience that was rather classic. The other time I almost died left no memories at all. I wonder whether you might begin, over time, to have glimmerings of what happened in that lost 15 minutes.

      Anyway, I am glad you are mending and hope you have time to do so deeply. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I am treasuring it. I am also remembering a teacher who liked to say that sometimes people are here just to take turtles out of dangerous roadways. I’ve come to appreciate that just being alive, and attending to the world and the real needs of others, may be a very rewarding experience.

  2. What a beautiful post, Michael. It seems to me that the struggle to find meaning in Christ’s birth each and every year is what Christmas is about. Each year we are different people, searching for new insights. I hope your new year is full of wisdom, peace, and rewarding experiences – and relatively free of physical decline.

    • Pat, I have not really thought about Christmas as always new territory, but of course it is. We are always following the star to a humble crib, although the location off that stall, and how we understand the journey really do change.

  3. Lovely post Michael, beautifully expressed.Much to think over.I always dread Christmas in the lead up but the actual days spent with the family, now grown, always provide great memories.

    • Isn’t it odd that somehow the holiday usually transcends our dread and fear, and is often quite remarkable, even healing? Somehow it takes me weeks to get below the commercialism to the ancient and transcendent, and to feel connected to family and friends, to make room for magic and great memories. Yet,again somehow, I discover myself held in the warmth of family, friends, and season.

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