dina posted this prompt on her blog and asked her readers to respond on their blogs with their answers to this question. it comes right at the same time as the chorus of "where's the christmas spirit" that predictably rears its head among the media, among the bloggosphere, even - i am sad to say - among people i consider my friends.
leaving aside the grieving, the destitute and the seriously ill - ie, those people who have good reason to be angry with the Powers That Be - i'm never sure about the rest of us.
yesterday, the substitute host on the afternoon talk radio show i sometimes listen to if i happen to be driving around between 3 and 6 pm railed about christmas music that's been coopted into advertising jingles as the thing that's just turned it all off for him. we're just missing something this year, he moaned.
for shame, i thought to myself. if i'd had my cell phone handy or had felt a tad bit crankier i might've called in and scolded him for being such a scrooge. we're not missing anything as far as i can tell. yeah, times are tough, but these are the times that challenge us all to reach into our hearts and pull out some genuine feeling for our fellow man because we're all in this mess together. i don't see this as a year of no spirit - i see this as the year of perfect opportunity to REALLY show what this time of year is all about.
and no, it's not about a baby. it's not about jesus. it's about LOVE. if you want to experience the so-called christmas spirit - any time of year, really - but it's really easy around now - is you do something for someone else. you buy one less thing for someone who already has presents, and you buy something for someone who doesn't. you look around and you see who the lonely, the sick, the scared, the hungry are, and you do something - anything - to make them feel better. sometimes it's just a smile. sometimes it's giving up a parking spot. sometimes it's letting someone go ahead of you in a long line cause they have a little kid who's clearly getting fussy. you send an email, you leave a note. you notice the strangers, the outsiders, the ones for whom there is no room at the inn... and you do something.
i dont believe that everything the gospels say jesus said he actually said, but i do believe he said this: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. do is an action verb in my opinion. if you want to feel something, you have to do something. if you want to feel love, you have to act in a loving way toward someone else.
because i also believe that love is the answer. to everything. if we all acted as if we loved and cared about each other, we would never allow each other to live in the conditions under which so many of us live. i believe that the energy that flows through the universe both physical and metaphysical is love, pure and simple, unconditional, eternal. i believe, as i think marianne williams said, we have a harder time accepting our light than we have accepting our shadow, and so we resist that love, for many reasons, all of which i believe we've created ourselves, collectively, across time, with the accumulation of cultures and various belief systems.
i believe jesus himself gave us a key to bring us back to a place of simple understanding. become as little children, he said. and so christmas, the solstice, the time of the new-born year, invites all of us, i think to re-experience that state of child-like wonder and comprehension. it is a time to heal that child within us, to create as closely, as shamelessly as possible whatever it is you believe the child that is you deserves. if it's cookies, bake them, if it's a stocking, hang it. fill it. if it's candles, light them. after all, how can you love anyone if you can't love yourself first? for most people i know, their childhood memories are dark cavey places they'd really rather not go. what a wonderful metaphor for going into the dark and finding the light.
i believe that part of my practice and understanding of "wicce-craft" is how to use the energies of the planet to deepen and enhance one's own inner journey. thus, this is has always been an ideal time for me to go into my own dark places and revisit the demons who dwell in my soul. what i find is that if i "feed" them, they ain't so scary. and i can climb back, toward the light, the new-born sun with a sense of renewal and rebirth.
this year for me is particularly poignant as it is the first one i will celebrate without the presence of my grandmother. my fiftieth christmas, my fiftieth solstice, and my first without her looming, my personal albatross around my neck. i feel both lighter, and sadder. how is it possible i miss the old witch? perhaps i miss the child she let me be.
and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.