Monday, 25 December 2017
Christmas - For an Old Dog, New Tricks
Walking in a winter wonderland ... a familiar "theme" certainly not something that is assured on the Westcoast of Canada at all, let alone Christmas day. However the elementals saw fit to powder the landscape beginning last night (Christmas eve). I had accepted an invitation to accompany a friend to a United Church (Caroling service).. I love to belt out the Christmas tunes.. well in truth, I love to belt out anything I can remember the words to!! I wasn't sure what to expect from brand "United," I understood them to be a rather "liberal" representation of Christianity. Is it any wonder, it takes something to reveal the love in the message of various pathways - when it is buried in layers of categorization ... one can spend so much time unraveling and determining the wrapping, that they entirely forget about the gift...
It was interesting to notice I was far more consciously aware of the theology woven into the fabric of some of the Christmas standards. I found myself unable to bring heart and soul into some lyrics, while singing, simply because it's not true for me.... therefore I won't affirm it, throughout my being.
Of the whole proceedings, there was a interlude where the minister invited people to call out the names of people or collectives to be included in prayer; for each she lit a candle... I felt the growing power of that collective flame and was moved by the experience of it...
Today, being Christmas day and that the snow remained, meant there was no need to "dream" of a White Christmas; it was so. I lit the dollar store lights on the poinsettia (which is the central presence on the altar that is serving as my physical representation of the Holy Days... Other than the plant $3.99 and the lights... the rest of it is various articles already in my possession. (i.e. two coasters both of which were gifts... one depicting the "O'Neill clan coat of arms, the other the "Green Man.." both figure into my ongoing journey) a small "Celtic cross" I acquire somewhere in Ireland this last time over there, pictures of Mother Mary & Jesus representational of an ongoing relationship I seek with them ... outside of popular theology, and a stone found in Ireland - with a natural hole in it - I keep finding those (and then giving them away)... I guess it has something to do with a belief that, certain things are acquired by the act of giving.... it's possible I'll keep this one - it would seem I'm meant to have one. Perhaps if one kept it long enough, the continued assertion of this powerful talisman into my life, might become more clear..
I treated myself to the food items I had purchased for my "Christmas breakfast" .... half a grapefruit and a cinnamon raisin bagel... simple and yet special, in as much as not my typical fare...
Later in the day a friend suggested a walk ... hence the manifestation of living the song.... It really was beautiful ...enough snow to create the Christmas card imagery ... along with a return to temperatures that were going to simulate a "Spring thaw" when we're only 4 days into winter.. Again, that would be some of the attributes of living in a "temperate rainforest" zone (more categorizations).
I have spent virtually nothing specifically on Christmas this year.. last year I was around a diversity of different people and activity ... there was ceremony collective and private. This year .... given I'm not part of a group of people (related or otherwise) where the whole gift exchange thing is going on - so it isn't. I lack nothing or want for anything. Actually, I have too much. Bags full of stuff have been leaving out of my apartment, since returning here & I'm not done yet. I didn't feel compelled to scramble and try and find somewhere to be for "Christmas dinner"- I will have dinner, and it will be on Christmas; I don't even know what "hungry" really means (experientially) ....
The glory of nature, fresh air and exercise, the warm and companionship of a friend - the epitome of prosperity. We saw (what we believed to have been a Cormorant air drying it's wings, a peacock, a squirrel... we shared in the understated but ever present majesty, of the host of different trees in our world renowned park. Insist if you will that it is "winter," but the trees are already forming buds which will become leaves & in some cases flowers..
Either end of the walk was framed in tea latte's (made possible by those that are willing to show up to work on Christmas day)...
As the parting of the ways was unfolding for my walking companion and I ... I noticed a fellow sitting beneath a tree on our route.. I made a mental note to revisit him on my way back to the car..
There he sat (half laying) in his makeshift cardboard "manger" strewn upon the ground to act as a barrier between him and the snow covered wet ground. The cardboard was showing signs of it's propensity for wicking moisture.. His "worldly" belongings were scattered around him. I got "nothing for Christmas.." This angel from God, was there to make me aware I had everything and then some.
'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' - Matthew 25:40 words attributed to Jesus/Yeshua - who knows if he actually said that? Does it matter? The words are striking enough to me ... to have me search my heart... (and I'm no biblical scholar ... the reference to those words was impressed upon me right now.. as I write this - I had to "Google it" to get that version of the words..
I dug a five dollar note out of my pocket, I was given that back from the purchase of beverages I bought for the dinner I had last night (and I drank one of them). It is roughly the equivalent of each of the two tea lattes I mentioned. God knows I didn't need another one of those.. The fellow's face just lit up to receive this small gift. I placed it his hat along with the assorted coins.. "Oh, that might blow away," he says.. "Right," I replied.. "Here you better tuck that in your pocket..." (I know the practice is put the "folding money" away and just leave the coins ... even "too many" of those might "threaten" continued contribution .. the optics are not favourable ... if there's too much money in the pot... ) - I know this because once while busking a fellow stopped and "suggested" I put the "folding money" away - people will stop "tipping" if you've got too much.." It never occurred to me, I wasn't prepared to adopt this scarcity thinking.... I value what I do, when I've had a good set, I allow the "take" to reflect the current monetary exchange... I have no need to manipulate reality or people's generosity ... there are too, security reasons, to not have too much money lying around..
Anyway, knowing all this, I just went along with his statement... the guy is on the ground, panhandling on Christmas day - am I going to further compromise his dignity? No, I am not.. We exchanged some banter ... neighbourhood news and weather observations.. and I wished him well..
Will that "contribution" either financial or the time spent in otherwise benign conversation, change his life? I have no idea. If there were anything open that night serving food, he would have had enough to get a decent meal. If his aim was to rent a room for the night, maybe, maybe not. If what he was after was a bottle of grog... more than enough. None of it ... any of my business.
Maybe he wasn't there for me to "change his life.." maybe the point was to have some impact on the ongoing changing of my life. An opportunity to practice some compassion and empathy. A chance to deepen in capacity for generosity. A grand reminder of the wealth that is mine, how much I have to be grateful for. How very little it takes to brighten someone else's day. An opportunity to further redefine for myself some meaning and purpose. Who's to say, that wasn't Jesus himself, lying there?
If not a contribution to "Jesus" ... what of any notion I might have, about growing "spiritually" - I can read books galore about the development of "Christ consciousness" .... I know to be true, that will never be as influential, as more consistently, applying in my life & then, acting in the world, from a consciousness, that I believe aligns, with the master teacher. (what would "Yeshua" do?.... I suppose to be far more, than a rhetorical question or bumper sticker). It is said God cannot do for anyone, what cannot be done through them... To experience the love of God then, is to be the love of God. Growing in Christ consciousness, doesn't mean an ability to talk about it longer.... it is arrived at by being/doing it....
This is no sermon ... it's not mine to "convert" anyone.. As has always been, the content of my written expression, I share my exploration, my questionsChris and my direct experience. I have no need to convince anyone of its validity.
I've been home now had a shower, put on another change of clean clothes.. if not another thing occurs today this Christmas evening - it matters not, my cup is full beyond capacity..
"Glory be to God in the highest... peace and goodwill toward all!!! (I think they say that somewhere, around about this time of year).