A few thoughts for the Christmas Season

In the past month the world has been shattered by the tragedy of hatred, anger, bitterness, frustration and human pain.

And now, the month of December, heralds the season of Christmas, a season of celebration which, in contrast, should be all about the real message of Love.

In our Western world December brings with it the onset of decorations, glitter, Santa, presents, carols, parties, food and drink in anticipation of a celebration … but what are we all celebrating?

Heart shaped christmas tree ball with chain of lights

On many front doors, the entry of welcome, we see the beginning of the Christmas Season acknowledged by the Advent Wreath.  This is probably my favourite decoration because it is circular and beautiful in its meaning.  The circle traditionally represents God, His eternity, endless mercy and all-embracing Love.  The circle, with no beginning and no end, reminds us of containment, contentment and hope.

Advent, as the name implies, is a time of preparation, a time for many to spiritually prepare for Christmas.  But this is also a time to prepare festive food, to send messages of greeting, to plan our celebrations and to purchase gifts for loved ones.  We have learned that the Magi, those three Wise Men, brought gifts in appreciation of the infant Christ, so the tradition of gift giving began.  Inspired by this, later Saint Nicholas, the original ‘Santa’ secretly gave gifts to children in need in the hope of bringing a little happiness to difficult circumstances.

So, in the Christmas celebration there’s a message of hope (especially among the kids!) And how much fun there is in gift giving and receiving!  As gifts are usually exchanged within celebration, there’s an opportunity to happily enjoy time with family and friends and to benefit from the love and security of each other.

But there are many people, young and old, throughout the world that are unable to join these celebrations and who, in many cases, find it difficult to sustain hope within their lives.  Estrangement, isolation and loneliness affect many on Christmas Day, bringing sadness while others are together in celebration.

Where is hope for those who have been closely touched by the human pain we have seen in recent times?  Or for those whose lives have been touched by abuse, or rejection?  Hope must be fragile for those enduring serious illness or infirmity or accident or injury?  And for those whose lives have been damaged by deceit or bullying or marginalisation or manipulation?    Is hope abandoned by the many who have suffered loss of acceptance, or loss of connection or loss of love in its many forms?  What of those who have lost their health or who live in chronic physical or emotional pain?  Or those who, for whatever reason, are abandoned and homeless or who seek refuge in addiction as an escape from the hurt?  And indeed our personal sufferings no matter how small we may consider them may bring loss of hope as daily we meet challenges that can disrupt security and contentment.  Hope is the thread that binds together the elements of Love to support each person’s journey.

Celebrations are wonderful but maybe hope can best be found in solitude.  Solitude can seem like isolation and may bring fear.  But solitude is strength, a gift to be treasured – hence of course, our commitment at this Centre to the practice of SMT!

In the words of the Brazilian muse, Paulo Coelho:

“Without solitude, Love will not stay long by your side.  Because Love needs to rest as well, so that it can journey through the heavens and reveal itself in other forms.”
Perhaps in this celebratory Season we can find some special times of solitude?  When loneliness or absence or fear arise, let’s sit still and discover from stillness that those feelings can become strengths.

Within solitude dread disappears and personal presence is strengthened.  From solitude, we can be truly present (the best kind of present!) to the whole of life.  With poise and calm and peacefulness, hope is revived and brings with it the power of enduring Love.

To all my blog followers I wish you Love, the all encompassing message of Christmas; and I wish you the celebration of life and a happy and peaceful summer – or winter, as the case may be.

From January next year my blogs are going to have a slightly different focus … enjoy these next holiday weeks and watch out for a new look from me!
Pauline McKinnon ©
December 2015