today is Christmas. As a person who practices the Christian faith this is a special time to celebrate and reflect.
One of the things I like most of days like Christmas is how they are a mix of ritual, expectation and unstructured time. We went to church last night and will spend time with family today. Right now however is that unstructured time that is open for interpretation. Being the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ puts some significant pressure on how this free time is spent. I am looking forward to spending some time in prayer, some time visiting with loved ones and some time reflecting on the many gifts I have in my life.
At the same time I realize Christmas doesn’t have the same clout it once did. In part this is because the religious aspects of Christmas have diminished and been replaced by commercialism (although not so much this year). We also are more open to acknowledging spiritual diversity of those around us. As I take the time to celebrate and reflect today, I wonder how persons of other faith traditions will spend this holiday. If the commitments of faith and family tradition were not present in my life, today would be a free day to pause and reflect and regroup. I’m left to wonder how I could take advantage of this opportunity. I could easily learn about the traditions of others and take some time out on their sacred days. This would give me a chance to celebrate the gifts of my life without the hassle that sometimes comes with the holidays. What a deal.
I went to a memorial service for the mother of a friend of ours today. As the service was going on a couple of kids were fussing near us. Little people making little people sounds don’t really bother me but I have a low threshold for kids who’s parents believe they can pack enough stuff to keep their little ones entertained only to find they have failed.
As members of Mary Margaret’s family shared memories of her life and the lessons they had learned from her I found myself reflecting on Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. The story tells of Siddhartha’s journey from boyhood to a man of wisdom. Siddhartha’s life was made of many phases and facets. It was the combination of these dissimilar pieces that made Siddhartha a wise man. The rememberances of Mary Margaret’s life were varied and she clearly touched different people in different ways. It was only through listening to these many stories I began to get a glimps of Mary Margaret and how she touched the generations that follow her.
As I listened I also wondered about the fussing kids. I got the sense their parents hoped they wouldn’t notice this situation was different from others in their little lives. There appeared to be an expectation the kids could get by without knowing this was a time to be still and to listen. The special person Mary Margaret was and Siddhartha’s wisdom were a convergance of listening, learning, joy, sadness, challenges and gifts. I found myself wondering if the cocoons we get ourselves into through the entertainment bag at the funeral, personal entertainment systems, audio devices, cell phones, etc. will support or eliminate that convergance.