A Christmas Epistle
By Shelli Stanger Nelson
Note: This is an edited version of the epistle I enclosed in our family Christmas cards this year. I relate to Jesus Christ, but maybe you follow another faith. Whatever one’s beliefs, I feel that the message in this edition relates to all people. Each faith and belief-tradition have a valuable place in our earth society as well as at Rukha® Academy.
It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I’m now sitting at my desk having just spent the last four hours decorating our family Christmas tree. For me, like so many of you who celebrate Christmas, this time of year is both joyful and brutal; joy for the ability to celebrate another year; tender (or brutal) sadness for the recollection of time and loved ones lost, quietly spent like smoke dissolving into air. This season brings eagerness and excitement for the anticipated memories about to be created, and silent tears for the things we no longer have, or never had in the first place.
What I’m really struck by during the Christmas season is the idea that we can venture out and purchase a segment of time, an emotion or sense of love at the local retail stores. When I hear the line, “buy more Christmas”, I’m always sent into bewildering confusion as though I opened my kitchen cupboard and instead of the dinner plates, found blooming flowers growing from the coffee cups. Didn’t we all listen to the sage wisdom from Dr. Seuss that the Grinch couldn’t steal Christmas because it doesn’t come in a box?
I know that the gifts people exchange are used to symbolize the gift of Christos, light, given to humanity by The Divine. I love to participate in that symbol. I enjoy giving and receiving gifts as much as the next person, don’t get me wrong. My human side is always eager to give and receive a sincere present. Similarly, my soul knows that these are simply ephemeral things that, at the end of the journey, will not have mattered one lick; not to me, and not to the receiver.
Since Christmas doesn’t come in a box, here’s what I’d really like for Christmas:
I’d like for the chains to truly be broken and the slave in all of us to be freed to live a life of peace and true freedom; that we all are able to experience a life filled with a meaningful purpose.
On my list is that we allow ourselves to be happy; that we can release our grip on old offenses or present-day limitations and decide to experience the moment of now. I wish for a world that speaks with honesty, but with a truth that doesn’t blame, judge, criticize or condemn. I’d like to wake up Christmas morning to find that being a Christian doesn’t make me an automatic hypocrite and bully covered with a hood of embarrassment. I’d like to rise with the sun and find that the misfits, the screw-ups and the oddballs of the world are less ostracized and I’d like for anyone who’s not working as hard as they possibly can to pick up their broken dreams and walk, no matter how much it sucks. I’d like to throw open my morning curtains to find that humanity is able to experience as much exhilaration and ecstasy in doing a good deed as we do when the team wins the big game.
I’d like to be gifted with the stamina to have infinite tolerance and capacity to endure. I want for there to be a way that we find it as easy to express the love we feel toward someone as it is to express our anger and disappointment. For Christmas this year, I’d like that the broken pieces in us can discard any justification for being a perpetual crank. I want to receive my own brilliance, forgiveness and internal redemption for everything I’ve never done that I should have done. I’d like to open a door that leads to a room wherein a spirit of collaboration and support doesn’t include enabling and collusion, a place where moderation has the loudest voice and where we can obliterate Churchill’s belief that, if we’re not on the left side of the political isle we don’t have a heart and if we’re not on the right side, we don’t have a brain. This year I’d like to have every single person know that giving their talent is needed and necessary. I’d like for all of us to be shown appreciation and admiration for our contributions; even if all a person can manage to do properly is to walk the dog, brew coffee or tie his shoes, so long as this is truly her best effort.
For Christmas this year I’d like to worry less about how the decorations look and to be more concerned about the look on my family’s faces. I wish for there to be enough; enough to go around-enough food, enough laughter, enough, just enough.
Christmas doesn’t come in a box. The way I see it, the true meaning of Christmas is the idea that all people, no matter their spiritual faith and beliefs, can find light in a world of darkness, hope in the midst of impossibility and can experience communion with all that is Holy and eternal and true in a tangible way. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did-to bring heaven to earth? If we miss this, we miss the only gift there is.
God’s essence is already on you. Let it be and let the world see.
And so it is