It is probably because I’m doing gentle yoga to Christmas music in a candlelit room. These are the kinds of holiday activities you find in my new home town in the mountains of North Carolina. It is true, I’m a long way from Texas. However, I’m having trouble clearing my mind because they’ve decide to use songs with vocalists, which I think is a bad choice.
“Describe in one word how God feels about the world right now.”
The observer in my head has decided to take my mind off of the lyrics about Frosty by springing a pop quiz. This is what happens when you live inside of my brain.
I don’t even hesitate. “Sad.” And then because I don’t like following rules, even my own, I add “very sad.”
There is silence while my memory replays current events. Perhaps I’ve been watching the news too much lately. It has started to disturb even my dreams. At the instructors prompting I move into a modified pigeon pose while a softer song croons “Peace on the earth, good will to men, from heaven’s all-gracious King. The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.”
Yes, angels singing. My spiritual notions are vague, and I wonder why I’m asking myself questions about the emotional state of a deity in whom I have at best a non-traditional belief. Then I realize that it’s not God I’m thinking about. He, She or It may in fact be sad.The point is that I think God should be. Because I’m more sad everyday as I listen to the intolerance and fear around me whip itself into ever larger volumes.
Look people.Two thousand years ago, a child was born. He went on to say things that translated roughly as “love one another” and “whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.” He even went so far as to suggest that “if anyone wants to take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” Yes, your whole coat. Whether you believe he was the Son of God, a great prophet, or just a wise man who was well quoted, his message of generosity, concern and love is quite clear. In my heart of hearts, that message is what I celebrate every Christmas. This is a holiday about love.
The voices answer. “Of course it’s about love, but ……… we’ve got to protect ourselves. But ……. they’re doing horrible things to us. But they started it. But they took it to a whole worse level. But they’re more animals than people. But I can’t have all the things God thinks I deserve if I share with others. But we need to take care of our own first. But God wants us to keep this nation great. But God wants everyone to believe what I believe. But if we pay attention to everyone’s suffering then, then, I don’t know what will happen.”
We’ve moved on to the restful savasana pose that signifies that class is almost over. “Silent Night” is playing softly and it brings back childhood memories of midnight mass out in the country in Western Kansas. “Sleep in heavenly peace,” it says. I have a lavender scented warm cloth draped over my eyes now, which is good because tears are rolling down my cheeks. Not that anyone in this class would be bothered by my emotions.
I remember being a child staring at a sky full of stars as we drove out to the small church my father grew up attending. I remember a feeling of magic as I realized that the whole world was seeing the very same stars that I was, and I remember believing that peace on earth was possible because surely tonight as everyone looked at this sky they understood deep in their hearts what this day was really about.
I wish I had been right. How did we ever get the idea that Christmas celebrates the hundreds of reasons to hold back from caring for each other. This holiday is not about “love, but.”
It is about love.
For other slightly offbeat thoughts about Christmas, see my posts “The Future of Christmas,” “Duct Tape and Christmas Cards”and “The Women of Christmas.”