Monday, December 3, 2012

Let Your (Christmas) Light Shine

     I wonder how many more outraged and sad conversations I will have this year with people about Christmas being ruined by either a) commercialism b) atheists or c) politically correct people insisting on "Happy Holidays. Not many I hope because, yogis, let's face it nothing can ruin the holidays for you like your own judgement and dissatisfaction. Every time you say Merry Christmas and someone answers Happy Holidays you can choose to let yourself bristle at their audacity of taking Christ out of Christmas. After all Christmas is not Christmas without Christ, right? But did you know the origin of the word Holiday is Holy Day? And when someone wishes you Happy Holidays they can be simply reminding you that we do take time out at the end of December to celebrate a few Holy Days. We should not allow semantics to cause us pain or create distance and judgement. If we want to be holy we have to love God and if we want to love God we have to love His creation and sometimes His creation takes the form of challenging people who don't think like you do.

     I loved finding out about the origin of the word holiday, it made me feel like I had a warm fuzzy secret everytime someone wished me Happy Holidays. But I have to admit to you that until Christmas 2010 I was also one of those railing against the commercialization of Christmas. I let my holiday spirit be eclipsed by preThanksgiving Christmas merchandise in the stores and I felt so righteous in my anger against devilish retailers out to "ruin my Christmas". It feels good to be self righteous sometimes, doesn't it?  However, like a bird, I am easily distracted and attracted to shiny things and it brings me much joy to see the lights adorning everything this time of year.
Being half Jewish we also celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. So one night walking the hood checking out the lights I started to ponder all the lights, the purpose of the lights, the cross cultural desire for lights, the brightly lit malls, and Griswold style houses of some of my neighbors. What is it with humans and winter and lights? I don't think we desire lights at all, rather I now see a universal longing for Light. The Light of God connecting us to one another can never be outshone by a million twinkling Christmas lights. The Light of God shining through us in the form of a smile, a hug, a helping hand can never be replaced by mulitcolored bulbs.

     This universal desire for connection and growth is there year round but during the winter season we express our desire for Light literally with lights. So when I see a retailer pushing an early Christmas season now I remember they too are searching for light. They may be confused in thinking that money and sales will bring Light into their lives but still I remember the human desire for Light is being played out with their awkward displays. A neighbors over the top light display is just another cry for Light and connection. A parents desperate search for a popular toy is the really the quest for the Light of their childs smile. This desire for Light is not a JudeoChristian phenomenon nor even an exclusively theistic desire. It is a human desire to live in Light and the more I can see through the big crass Christmas displays to the quiet yearnings of the soul the more I can focus on being light for someone else this year. The next time someone starts to complain about the downfall of Christmas I am ready with my answer. I am going to ask them two things : what they like about the season (let's refocus) and how they plan on being light for someone else this Season (let's quit complaining and start doing).
     So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays bring on the lights the glitz the crass commercialization so we can remember to be a light for someone else. Being a light in this dark and (supposed to be) cold season has nothing to do with Black Friday or getting that perfect toy. Rather light can shine from a genuine smile, from a moment of presence and awareness as we gift someone our ear. Light can emanate from us as we find our calm and eternal center and operate from our core rather than continuing to squawk about how other people are ruining Christmas. So this season I remember that it is alright to go see the lights but it is far better to Be the Light and I will use every display and every obnoxious chipmunk song  to remind myself this over and over. Nothing wrong with presents it's just that the true gift is presence. Nothing wrong with hanging lights it's just better to Be A LIGHT!!

"But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and
more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness:
they know not at what they stumble."
Proverbs 4:18-19

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