Like the earthquake we endured only 3 miles from the epicenter this month here at Adytum, my heart was shaken hard yesterday as I tried running with the herds in the malls for a few wretched hours. I will take control of this Season of Light and let the shaking open the doors of my heart once again to sense the Wonder Child’s residing there, offering hope to the world and forgiveness for our failings. This is the Gift of the Season, no matter what ends up under the soaring Christmas tree in the Tower Room.
Thanksgiving has accomplished the majority of the goals of the season: the ingathering of family and friends after their diaspora of summer life. We kept the meal simple, time in the lovely Adytum kitchen to a minimum and lots of emphasis poring over old photos that showed how long we’ve all loved each other. It was rich and noble. Enduring.
The next day for the first time ever, my daughter and I tried joining with thousands of Black Friday shoppers at the mall while some brake work on her Honda was being done nearby. What a jolt from the peaceful, deep time we’d just had at Adytum. The complete lack of parking, the flood of people, overwhelming scents in the shops, the red “sale” signage pasted everywhere seeking to manipulate shoppers into overspending for fear of missing a deal, the inability to walk a straight line at a decent pace…never again. My senses, my mind ,and my spirit were so effectively overwhelmed that it took a lot of time to recover from the experience. It left me frazzled and exhausted emotionally. Not only that, but it just felt wrong deep down. I walked out with nothing except some supplies for a box we were preparing for a solider and a sense that I was compromising my integrity and the vow to never do it again in this way.
Arriving back at the sanctuary of Adytum, seeing the lovely bright lights Donn draped over the little evergreens and around the entry were calming and full of hope as the darkness increases yet another month before the Solstice. Our dear friend left a tree in my absence at the entry; over 15’ tall, and we joked as we tried to drag it with all our power up the stairs and into the Tower Room. Wresting it into the special tree stand designed for enormous trees was risking our lives, literally for me at least. One wrong move and I’d be crushed under the weight of all the beauty and glory that resided in the tree plantation just hours before, as it had for the past 7 years preparing for this day.
How appropriate to live out the story that my spirit sensed in the city’s mall earlier by coming home to struggle with this Behemoth Christmas tree: life is full of fine lines and delicate balances. Ignore this and risk being crushed under the assumed glory and beauty of it all. Later when I saw a humorous face book posting about entering this religious season where everyone seeks out the mall of their choice, instead of place of worship of their choice, it all fell into place…
This season I will not be consumed by the Christmas Machine with all its assumed glory and beauty that just ends up in percentage gains posted on the financial market boards post season. We have a large family and I’ve felt such a sense of responsibility making Christmas “happen” for everyone. Like a cloak I am shedding, I am not going to pick that up this false sense of responsibility again.
I’ve been known to be a late bloomer…Donn laughs and says, “You’re just now figuring all this out?” He’s been on this journey longer than I and avoided the holiday crush long ago. I thought his avoidance was a “man thing” and took up the slack with renewed vigor not realizing I didn’t have to do it either. We will give the great gift of Christmas to ourselves this year. What’s good for us will be good for the rest of our family.
I will retreat into the simplicity, beauty and peace that will define the next month at Adytum. Instead of focusing on all the parties, gifts to yet buy, meals to plan and shopping to get those meals on the table, the focus will be on one thing:
The birth of the Christ Child, The Child of Wonder being born once again in our hearts. Taking our humble offer of room in our “inn” and turning it into a palace fit for the birth of a great King. The twelfth century Persian Sufi poet Rumi taught: “…only the unsayable, jeweled inner life matters.” In order to remain true to my matrix, the core values that make life meaningful, creating sacred space in this Adytum of my heart to know this Child of Wonder more fully is the emphasis and gift of the season.
The fresh, clean scent of the forest fills Adytum because of the spontaneous sharing of our friend. It is not the manufactured “Christmas in a Can” I was encouraged to pay for yesterday to create a Christmas ambiance here. We are the fragrance of the Christ Child: our acts of love, generosity and kindness to man and nature, birds and beasts. And to our “selves” as we shed responsibilities that were never ours, but were foisted upon us by the makers of the Christmas machine. In the mall, there was nothing of the Child of Wonder to be found alive.
When Nietzsche declared God was dead it left man with the inability to cope with the need for forgiveness. “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”—Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann
The simple birth of the Child of Wonder born anew in our hearts offers the answer to Nietzsche’s astute observation: we need this Child. We have allowed this season to assume the Behemoth proportions of a Christmas Machine designed to boost the national economy, to crush us under the weight of our frazzled nerves and destroy the fruit of everything that Thanksgiving achieved: the ingathering of friends and family, the increase of our love and the ties that bind us. To find the Child of Wonder and commune with Him in the beauty of our jeweled inner selves, to focus on looking out for the needs of others, whether man or beast, and the spontaneous giving that results; the joy in simple companionship and the gratitude that supersedes it all: This is Christmas.