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Dept. of Holy Declarations

Christmas, Light, and Truth

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.









This entry was originally posted at https://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/683898.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here, but prefer to read over on DW. You can comment there using open ID if you don't have a DW account.

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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
sallymn
Dec. 26th, 2017 09:28 am (UTC)
It's complicated, isn't it? I'm an agnostic - I'm not sure if there is or isn't a God that I'm absolutely certain if there is he/she is NOTHING like the ones anyone believes or believed in...

I like the peace and goodwill aspects of Christmas, and get less than innocent gleeful pleasure in all the kitsch (I don't have kids, and don't have to buy into it)
kaffyr
Dec. 27th, 2017 10:00 pm (UTC)
and get less than innocent gleeful pleasure in all the kitsch
I understand the glee - and I think it's right to be gleeful, innocent or not. Heh.

I'm not sure if there is or isn't a God

To quote my Best Beloved: any god that I can imagine, isn't God. I think I agree - which is why I've come to have a stronger belief (for various elastic powers of "stronger" and "belief") in what I've come to call The Small Gods. And by that, I mean no disrespect ... I have come to believe in incarnations such as the Hagia Sophia.

In the end, what I believe is the god of open arms, the god of giving me the strength to be kind and honest, the god who gives me the wisdom to know when it is better to be kind than honest, and when it is better to be honest than kind, when it is best to be brave, and when it is best to be afraid - and the god that reminds me it is always, always best to love, and not to be afraid of love.

Now, lest I become too prolix and stuffed-shirted about it all, can I tell you how much I love your icon? Would it be all right if I nabbed it, with the proper credit? Because it has made me smile a great big smile all across my face!

Also - Happy Solstice, Happy Light Against the Dark!

sallymn
Dec. 27th, 2017 10:16 pm (UTC)
For sure! The only two of all my icons which I would call 'privatejustforme' are the defaults Alices on LJ and DW - and no one else would WANT them :)

I'm very fond of this one myself...

kaffyr
Dec. 27th, 2017 11:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
flowsoffire
Dec. 26th, 2017 02:20 pm (UTC)
Even for a non-believer, your words are very powerful. It's such a fundamental part of humanity to reach for something beyond ourselves, through religion, philosophy or in so many different ways… Indeed, we all need hope, light and meaning. May we all find it in our own ways, through a god or goddess, through our loved ones, through the small impact we may have on the world or the lives of others…

kaffyr
Dec. 27th, 2017 10:54 pm (UTC)
through our loved ones, through the small impact we may have on the world or the lives of others…

And you know, I think that's the secret; having a positive impact on and for those we love, and in the little ways that make each day a bit better for ourselves and others. If we all did that, regularly, each effort would be like a seed that we could nurture into beautiful growth.

Happy, happy holidays to you!
flowsoffire
Dec. 28th, 2017 03:51 pm (UTC)
And you know, I think that's the secret; having a positive impact on and for those we love, and in the little ways that make each day a bit better for ourselves and others. If we all did that, regularly, each effort would be like a seed that we could nurture into beautiful growth.
This so much.

Happy, happy holidays to you!
And the same to you! ♥
strannik01
Dec. 27th, 2017 04:42 am (UTC)
I just recently wrote about it in my LJ, so I will try not to repeat myself too much here. But, since to me, American Christmas has always been just my family's take on the very secular New Year, I didn't usually stop to think too much about its religious significance, and I certainly never felt conflicted about celebrating a religious holiday in spite of not feeling all that religious... So your post was very interesting to read. And your take on the story of Jesus' birth as a symbol of hope within the darkness... I never thought about it this way before, but it does make a lot of sense.

And thank you for the well-wishes.
kaffyr
Dec. 27th, 2017 11:57 pm (UTC)
Throughout my life, I've grown to understand that while Jesus is not, as too many slightly panicked Christians are wont to say in North America, the reason for the season, the season is actually probably one of the reasons for Christmas - Julian or Gregorian - being in this dark part of the year.

After all, we all fight against the dark. Not the blessed dark that allows us to sleep, or to appreciate the stars, but the dark of fear, of hate, of exclusion and meanness.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the winter solstice takes on such importance - it's the point at which we know the days will become longer, that light and warmth will be with us for longer periods. I am sure there are similar holidays in the lands of the southern hemisphere that circle around the summer solstice.

I hope this holiday season is good for you.
strannik01
Dec. 30th, 2017 04:23 am (UTC)
Hmm... Because I associate those traditions with New Year, the winter solstice connection would have never occurred to me. To me, they are about celebrating the good things that happened, leaving behind the bad and looking forward to what the next year will bring.

I mean, I think you're definitely onto something here. It's just that it's yet another testament to how cultural norms shape our perception.
kaffyr
Dec. 30th, 2017 05:06 pm (UTC)
the winter solstice connection would have never occurred to me

I think what makes it easier to consider is to ask the question - why do we set the New Year around this time of year? Why do so many cultures seemingly arbitrarily declare that their New Year occurs now? I think it's because cultures - at least those on the north half of our globe - noticed that the days start to get longer, brighter, and, eventually, warmer around this time. If that isn't a reason to say "Hurrah! The new year has begun!" I don't know what is. Heh.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 27th, 2017 09:42 pm (UTC)
This is Mack again, since I'm still too lazy to try to find my log-in info
This is beautiful. It encompasses a lot of what I (as a believer) love about Christmas: the songs, the story, the light in the darkness:

"A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!"
kaffyr
Dec. 28th, 2017 12:09 am (UTC)
Re: This is Mack again, since I'm still too lazy to try to find my log-in info
It is people such as you, and my beloved mother, who keep me from completely rejecting organized faiths of any kind. I am glad that you are out there, and I hope your Christmas was a good one.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 28th, 2017 06:48 am (UTC)
Re: This is Mack again, since I'm still too lazy to try to find my log-in info
Aww, that is a very sweet thing to say. Thank you.

I'm glad you're out there, too. My Christmas was lovely, though it included travel on the Day itself, which I have never done before. But the travels went smoothly and everyone was together, so those are the important things. All that remains is finding a time (around the schedule of the kids, who are still too young) to watch It's A Wonderful Life.

Glad to see from your other post that your holiday was a good one, too. <3
namarie24
Jan. 11th, 2018 01:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this lovely post. <3 (As I finally check LJ ages after Christmas... I guess I'm still getting back into the habit.)

There are so many parts of my Christmas traditions that bring that joy & lump in the throat, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
kaffyr
Jan. 27th, 2018 11:14 pm (UTC)
And here I am responding after even more weeks! I'm still having difficulty sticking to my determination to be more active online. But I keep plugging away at it. I'm so glad you folks were able to celebrate with people you loved, that you were able to return to your work, and here's hoping you can get a new car!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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