Religion is a complex thing. For some, Christmas is a religious holiday, and everything is secondary to that. It commemorates the arrival of salvation. But, for others, Christmas lost its religious meaning long ago – but remains inspirational. What is it about this grand holiday that has such a deep and resonating message? Money, gifts and commercialism aside, why has it endured?
Christmas has evolved…it has become a time for family and friends. While the importance of the origin of the day may have weakened for many, what has strengthened is the power of togetherness- coming together and being together.
The day has become a day of love, time to spend with family and friends, time to return to our truest values focusing on the people we love and care for most.
The image is a light in the darkness, a beautiful message that Christmas shares with Chanukah and with Kwanza. And, we know of too much darkness in our world today.
Christmas is a beautiful and humbling show of humanity – that we now celebrate this festival with an earnest commitment to the people closest to us, to showing our love, giving, sharing and partaking together with those who mean so much to us.
While it is wonderful and warming that we use this time of year to reconnect to what truly matters, perhaps we need to be a bit more critical of this approach. Yes! The holiday season should be one of love, togetherness, family, friends, giving and spreading the love - but it should not be that this is the only time of year such a thing occurs.
We suffer today from trauma and isolation. Robert Putnam tells us about it in his great work, Bowling Alone. The terrible events of Newtown, and the suffering of so many has roots in isolation and coldness. Community is a tonic to the human being. When you feel part of something, even if you have a mental illness, it heals. With every man for himself on Wall Street or negotiating a will or cheating in professional sports – we all lose.
Christmas is an exclamation point of sorts for so many. We are together. Love is important. There is more to this world than my petty needs and wants. And, while American Individualism has its place, so does community and a regard for others. Lawyers become less important when we do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.
We are remarkedly isolated despite all the ways we connect. And, we are isolated from ourselves as well. In today’s busy modern world, we are often so engrossed in being in touch (via our mobile phones, emails, facebook, twitter and the like) that we (ironically) lose touch with people, and with ourselves. We are so busy with our kindle, our ipad, our iphone that we have almost forgotten what its like to find the quiet solitude of the self, to listen to one’s soul, to be alone and at one with one’s thoughts.
Christmas, Passover, birthdays, special holidays are unique opportunities to spend with those dearest to us- but they should not be the only time we make to spend with those we love.
Let us resolves to carry some of the spirit and meaning of the holiday season with us into the next year. Let us devote more time reconnecting to family, friends, ourselves and perhaps even God; or whatever name you want to call the Life force of the world.
Let us enjoy the holiday – but let us learn from it and allow its beauty and message to seep into our everyday life too; so that we can be jolly and festive throughout the year.
God knows, we need a healing.