It's Christmas. As always, the holiday brings forth in me an ambivalence.
I am no longer a Christian in my intellectual belief. I was, however, raised in one of the strains of Christianity that was both loving and intellectually open, in a loving and generous household, where my mother and grandmother were the most loving and generous of believers. As a result, it is hard for me to sing certain Christmas carols without a lump in my throat. Hard as well for that lump of tearful ... joy? Yes, joy ... not to form when I hear some of those New Testament verses, when I hear the story of a birth on a cold, dark night, of a young woman who held that child and loved it, of a man who didn't understand, but stood by them; of a radiance of angels singing to shepherds.
Why does that story make me cry? I think it' because, in the very wise words of my Best Beloved, it's a true story, even if it didn't happen, especially at this time of year.
The story of a loving Creator, who so loved this miserable world, and its miserable two-legged inhabitants - the Creator's miscreant, misanthropic, malevolent sons, daughters, children of all types - that He* broke Himself into pieces for love of us, and came to stay with us, in hopes of saving us from ourselves ... that's a love that passes my understanding.
Of course, Christmas is just the joyous announcement of salvation to come - but that joy is all encompassing.
Mind you, I know the story raises so many theosophical eyebrows. Do we really need to be saved, from ourselves or anything else?
I've abandoned the religious arguments; I'm pretty sure the only lake of fire into which we risk putting ourselves is whatever we might turn this globe into. I'm also pretty sure that any Creator vast enough to bring this universe into being is far, far beyond paying individual attention to us. Such a Creator is also undoubtedly not interested in sending us to hell for not worshiping Him.
(Avatars, demigods, little gods, and incarnations, yes: I've come to choose to believe in them, and I choose to believe they do love us.)
But you know, I think we do need to be saved from ourselves. We'll probably have to do it ourselves, and that's as frightening as any religious hell.
For now, however ... this is the darkest part of the year.** And this story, stripped of the specific catechism of Christian belief has a deeper truth related to that.
In the darkness of the year, something in our souls cries out for life and warmth. We cry out for new life; we yearn for second chances. And the babe in the manger bring us life, warmth, and hope. So does the saint who has come to live in the darkness of the northern pole, who loves children and brings all of us children the light he generates even at the pole. We cry out for the miracle of the temple oil, we yearn for the sun to announce, at Solstice, that it is coming back to us.
I wish for all of you, that light, that warmth and, above all, that hope. Because all these stories are true, even if they never happened.
* Forgive me my use of a gendered creator. He and I have had an ongoing relationship for decades. She may be different for you. They are god, are we not?
** The Southern Hemisphere is enjoying the warmth of summer, but all of my friends on that side of the world understand this message. Darkness comes in all forms.
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