Tag Archive | Jesus’ birth

Christmas Season 2014

We in the Northern Hemisphere have just celebrated the Winter Solstice. We were reminded how our ancestors, about five- or six-thousand years ago, created rituals and built special places to celebrate the longest night/ shortest day of the year: the return of light.

article-0-0C4EBD83000005DC-238_634x422Contemporary visitors to Stonehenge in England (pictured) and Newgrange in Ireland might not understand everything about how these monuments were constructed or what, exactly, happened at them, but the experience of being there connects visitors to the relatively recent past of our human race. Waiting in the darkness of the longest night of the year, watching the precise slit where light would shine, and then seeing it radiate must have been overwhelming to those who did not understand their solar system as we can now do.

NativityIt’s hard for Christians today to experience total darkness. Nevertheless, we celebrate Light at  Christmas. We picture a bright star, angels in a brilliant sky, and light radiating either from, or onto, the Holy Child Jesus with Mary and Joseph.

We rejoice, more than our Neolithic relatives could have understood, that a new moment in the irreversible developmental process of our Universe has arrived. The babe is born in poverty — no conspicuous consumption or consumerism here! Every person of the human race, whatever color, is welcome — no documents required, or social standing. How might those lessons enlighten our current civilizations?

When his time came, Jesus introduced himself as “the Light of the world” and promised that those who followed him would have the light of life. We know that the light of his life and his teachings are challenging to follow: he broke cultural laws when the good of others was at stake; he forgave his enemies; he loved those who betrayed and persecuted him; he gave what he could to the poor, sharing unconditionally; he was at home with the world he experienced and respected, and we cannot imagine his abusing or wasting any part of it; . . . .

The Light of his life and of his love penetrates our whole cosmos. May our eyes and hearts grow increasingly sensitive to this Light as we celebrate Christmas and begin a New Year!

Best wishes to everyone for a blessed holiday season!

Christmas Post Pi

Background: Life of Pi

imagesI fell in love with Life of Pi (a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001) when I read the book. I later saw the film twice. The imagery and special effects were Oscar-worthy, and I found the overall spirit mesmerizing. His dressed-up symbolic tale is amazing, but so is the basic story of his survival.

After reading the novel, I often thought about Pi’s question to the insurance agents.  They reject the story that uses symbolism, so Pi tells them what they want to hear. It is, after all, an incredible tale of human ingenuity and determination. As nearly as I can recall, Pi then asks them which story they prefer. One can make a choice; both are true. I kept thinking of these two versions of the same story in relation to the Christmas story.

I love all the symbolism in the Christmas story. However, in addition to pondering that images-2version, I also like to ponder the marvels of the basic version.

The following poem was written with full reverence for both ways to tell the Christmas story. I just felt the basic version, for reasons obvious in light of Pi’s question, gets too little attention. Considering what we know that Scripture writers and early carol-composers and artists didn’t know, it might even be the more amazing version. No doubt you’ve had these thoughts and pictured it this way. It’s your preference. It’s all true.

Christmas (Post Pi)

I picture him
another Jewish boy
born in pain
to another Jewish mother,
blood-birthed love-child
of another Jewish couple.

I see them holding him in turn
awed by tiny fists and lashes.
Their first born is a boy,
all features intact,
ten fingers, ten toes.
Praise God!

They wonder,
as parents do most everywhere,
what wisdom and what grace
will bless his years,
and who will he become?

He comes from them, from Earthget-attachment-1.aspx
no need to leap from heaven
if thought of as a floor above.
Divinity lives closer.

Absent are angelic hosts,
though eager ears will listen
for their Glorias.
No star defies celestial laws
to close the light years of its distance.
A supernova might have flashed,
but not remotely close
to Milky Way or Earth or Palestine.

And yet
the stars were present at his birth.
Stardust journeyed farther
than the kings to form this child:
millions of miles, billions of years.
They couldn’t have known.

They knew but this:
they had a helpless child
to feed and clothe and love
and groom to take his place
within a tribe oppressed
by Roman rule, but blessed
with favor by their God.

The rest is up to us.
We are the universe rejoicing
that Mystery became incarnate
in this child, in this way.
In him divinity has grown
to full awareness, and from his light
we’ll shape our lives in new awareness:
God lives and acts in us and in our world.

O come, let us rejoice!