I’ve no doubt that Christmas means many things to many people. For me it represents or points to an innocence and a simplicity. The imagery of Christmas is full of representations of nature, of the robin, of holly and ivy, of snow, of children excited and playing. It is a time for human connection with our family and loved ones. For Christians it is a thanksgiving for the birth of the teacher Jesus Christ. Much of the imagery and the hymns that we hear at this time point to the subtle sense of Christmas as being about a certain sacredness and a purity.
Of course, we don’t need to be a Christian to connect with and to recognise these qualities of innocence, simplicity, purity and sacredness. The quality of innocence only seems alien to many of us because we have moved so far from our childlike innocent wonder at the world. We have become dominated by our clever minds, cynical, sarcastic, and obsessed with the need to know. We may well feel a million miles from that innocent child we once were. We are quite literally slaves to our minds endless movement, jumping at its every dictate and prompt. Bound up endlessly in our own small dramas or obsessing over the big picture dramas of brexit, covid, Donald Trump etc.
In many ways this makes sense. The world is a complex place and in order to function as adults within it, we need to know certain things. Because the world can feel a very insecure place full of uncertainties and threat, perhaps especially at this time, we try to feel safe and in control by knowing as much as we can. The trouble is that knowing more and more, or believing we do, doesn’t actually rid of us of the terrible sense of existential angst we often feel. However much we know we can’t seem to shake the feeling that something is really quite wrong.
I’m not for a moment suggesting that we try to make ourselves stupid or that knowing about things that are happening in the world is a bad thing. Similarly, our own small dramas feel big to us and drama to some degree is an inevitable aspect of being alive. But what drives our need to know is often times the need to feel safe and in control, in other words our fears. Often our dramas are fed by our habitual reactions and living in a state of high drama becomes a habit in its own right that we just endlessly go around the hamster wheel with.
Taking time out of needing to know anything through meditation and going quietly inside of ourselves is vital to our spiritual growth and well being if not our actual sanity. Christmas with its imagery of innocence and simplicity can help lead us towards our own innocence and simplicity. Innocence is an aspect of our real nature and for me at least Christmas invites us to remember this and to allow this innocent essence of ourselves to come to the fore. The imagery, the music, the sense of giving, can all remind of us of what we are if we allow it to. If we find ourselves getting stressed with family members we can just think of robin red breast, of the snowman, of a baby in a manger and it might well lead us away from conflict and into the depths of what we are.
With innocence as our bedrock, a sense of purity and sacredness more readily become apparent to us. We can allow the spirit of Christmas to lead us into our own nature, to reveal the purity and sacredness at the deepest of levels of who and what we are and always have been.
If we can learn to resist the endless impulse to follow our minds we can begin to uncover the gift of simply being. We can begin to sense that there is a divinity within us that seeks to guide our actions. We start to sense that this Divine Impulse has always been there and wishes only to express itself through our hearts and into the world. Christmas can be, if we allow it, a stopping moment, a moment to realise something of the true nature of life and ourselves.
I wish all of you, the Emerald Heart family, a Peaceful, Innocent and Sacred Christmas time and a truly joyous New Year.
All my love,