This year, as I decorated the Christmas tree with my family, I was amazed to watch my “four and three quarter” year old son’s eyes grow larger and larger as he anticipated the “big show.” I could see his buzzing, which reminded me of my own childish obsession to receive, “things,” from Santa. I couldn’t help but stop and ask myself… “Why am I perpetuating this holiday of consumption?”
- For one thing, I’m an environmentalist at heart, and now… there is a dead tree in my house no longer helping fight green house gas emissions.
- Beyond this, I’m now buying him “stuff” that when broken, will not go, “away.” Because as I heard on KGNU last night, there is no, “away.” There are land fills, junk piles, recycling processes… but “away” doesn’t exist. We just like to think it exists so we don’t have to deal with the problem we are contributing to.
Why perpetuate this tradition? Why has it survived for millennia?
It’s been a long hard year for me, giving birth to InspirePay as an entrepreneur (while supporting employees, a new baby, etc.). Often I felt naked in a blizzard praying to god for relief from the cold. I watched my revenue dip as I pulled back from consulting and my burn rate go up as the mission pushed forward. At the depths, when everything seemed to be collapsing around my growing vision (which in and of itself seemed to always be two inches from within my grasp), something magical happened. Something so special, it was like life was conspiring for me to experience it… The debt vanished… My “Vendors” became partners… My family became even more supportive. Talk about special. The huge gift of being validated and supported by my true friends and family arose, when I was on the edge of total destruction and perceived abandonment.
Let’s admit it, life can be dark and lonely. It can be a living hell. The truth is… in the heart of darkness, when one feels all alone and cold, at the bottom of the shit pile of God’s perceived abandonment… that’s when the gifts really start to come. Gifts about who we are, why we are here, and a sense of self that just can’t be known at other times in our lives. I know in my life, that what all spiritual traditions say on the mystical level is true… nothing exists outside of the divine. And when one is in such a place of abandonment… they are still being held by the divine, even if they can’t see it. As Omkara sings in the video below… we are in a dream… a dream made of love. We just need to remember who we are.
Now, I know that this is a bold proposition for the world. Many people will agree, and many people will argue. It’s my view. It doesn’t need to be yours. But in it I can find that, ironically, Christmas now has meaning. It comes at the coldest, harshest time of year. It comes when everything seems like it’s about to die. Christmas is the spark of light in a sea of darkness. Its’ the birth of hope. A hope for warmth, a hope for abundance, and a hope for joy. It’s a time to give and receive gratitude, to become a warm hospice for others. It’s a time to celebrate the fact that in the darkness is when the “presents” come.
Of course, I’m speaking of spiritual presents, but for those deep in the ritual of Christmas with young children, I would say, take a moment to teach the true spiritual lesson here. The light is in the darkness. The light is in me, it’s in you, and even when we feel totally abandoned by God… with a little hope and prayer… with a little effort to be on the nice list and not the naughty list… the spiritual “presents” will manifest. Maybe that gift is a ray of light. Maybe that gift is a ray of hope or warmth. Maybe that gift is a new friend, or even a new sense of self empowerment. Who knows….
This time of year is a gift for all. It doesn’t take a biblical scholar to know this holiday is much older than modern religions, and certainly older than Jesus. It’s ancient. Decorating an evergreen – ancient. Celebrating warmth and joy arriving in the dark and cold – ancient.
May the spark of hope descend on you this holiday season. May the divine mystery bless you this holiday season to guide you on your highest paths… no matter how dark the path may have seemed or may seem. May we all know why we are here, that we are connected, and that we can make this shared experience better for all by our presence. May we allow our presence to become presents for others in need.
Thank you to my family, my office staff (Lesley, David, and Scott), Dojo4, Kendall Thiessen, Bruce Campbell, Jochem Tans, Metzger Associates, Adii Pienaar, Michael Abdy, Jay Ferracane, Hank Pantier, and all other supporters in the darkness. You all made it happen for me and helped bring my “Christmas” this year. May the gift be returned 1000 fold to you in this life.