Reflections at Christmas

Reflections at Christmas : Welcoming divine Light of heart and hearth.

Three days of stationary stillness ( sol-“stice” just like armistice ) follow the dark of winter solstice on December 21st. By December 25th we have Christmas -at its core and despite the commercialism is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, the divine child. We can reflect on this symbolic divine and spiritual son as also a bright invitation to kindle and ignite the presence of our spiritual core, a “sun” within our own hearts.

If we choose to notice, at this time, we can pause to bear witness a Return of the Light – both spiritually and physically within ourselves as within nature. Now is an opportunity to reflect on our deepest values and intentions. This can include an emotional sense of movement, of promise, hope and expansive possibility, an invitation to lightness, and to innocence.

As we welcome this cosmic return of a spiritual and phenomenal light we can hope to experience the same Light warming our hearts. The customs of Christmas invite us to receive and affirm familial bonds of love, friendship and kindness in homes and communities : through gratitude, gift giving and sharing.

An Invitation to Shine

To shine our own light is to imply not that we ourselves are the Light but that the light within us – the spiritual source of Life itself – does not have its origins in us but rather that it shines through and with us.

The organ that is most in tune with this time of year is of course the heart. Extending through the hands, and the gifts that we give, or embracing a loved one or reaching up for a better vision and version of ourselves as we face into a new year with all the promise, uncertainty and possibility that entails – we nourish our heart of hearts.

Courage and Sovereignity

The heart is also associated with the constellation of Leo and the figure of the lion. C.S. Lewis, celebrated author of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe series of books was inspired by his homeland in Co. Down, Ireland, where the scenery of the Mourne mountains marked out his environment of his books. Artist, Ross Wilson, who created the sculpture of C.S. Lewis that now stands outside Hollywood road Library in Co. Down sought to ‘capture the great ideas of sacrifice, redemption, victory and freedom for the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve’ that lie at the heart of The Chronicles of Narnia. The popular character of Aslan the Lion is a symbolic representation of the archetypal Christ energy. Aslan is wise, he is mighty and he is royal. C. S. Lewis was also inspired by the literary contemporaries of the Celtic Revival, W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory.

The figure of Christ invites us into initiation with our own sovereign regal nature too – where the qualities of nobility, of patience. of wisdom, fortitude, courage and reverence – are promoted and honoured.

Materialism and Christmas

For many, this time can be a lonely one – a time of poignant memory and of pining for loved ones lost. This may be a time of plenty, but materialism may weigh heavy on our hearts if it feels to be rooted in a separation, in a compulsive performance of generosity rather than heart-felt tokens of care. Just as in life, that which is extraneous and vestigial, unnecessary clutter to our key and vital needs, desires, passions can impede our growth. The child surrounded by gifts cannot choose where to begin – in the absence of self knowledge, every item a loud parade of invitation – inscribing an equivalent seeming claim to attention and importance.

I am grateful for all that I have experienced through life to this point, and now I can see that the great depths of emotion and sensitivity I carry are also what make me human – and, perhaps more able to feel for others in their story. I can acknowledge an innocence and naivety too that helps me to err on the side of light-heartedness and affirm joy, and yet, in excusing or accommodating the behaviour of others I must be careful not to simply deny my own pain. Jumping too soon towards positivity & forgiveness would be a spiritual bypass, denying the opportunity to wrestle and engage with the real stuff at the root of transformation, uncomfortable though that may be.

When Christmas comes around we may be reminded of our own loss, of family members or friends who died before their time, great untold stories and injustices that may never be fully known or atoned. To have the courage to own our grief, to say without emotion or self-reproach or indulgence and to simply accept the facts ; “yes, that happened to me”. That brings a possibility of integration and relief through self compassion. Self-compassion says that yes, this happened to me – or, yes “I did that”. It is also the willingness to listen to the still small voice that tells us when our feelings are in fact hurting, rather than being a softness it is also the source of a firm commanding protective spirit – the capacity to stand up for ourselves at times where we are not receiving the care and nourishment that we may need.

On Courage

Courage includes the word for heart – the french word “coeur”. En-cour-age is to encourage, is to bring oneself into the inexhaustible reserves of those heart reservoirs : assuming that the fire of our hearts have been stoked , assuming that our “heart-walls” have been cleared sufficiently to allow a healthy flow of energy to this vital organ in the centre of our chest – the center point of our vision and cauldron of heart-feeling and imagination.

There are times when our courage brings with it that fire – outwardly radiating our purpose and our vision for ourselves. As we share this moment of Christmas whether it is a busy time with family and friends, alone at home, at a retreat space or on holiday in the sun – we each in our own way have this opportunity to rekindle our heart felt dreams, visions, wishes both for ourselves and at a grander scale : for humanity as a whole. Never before have we been so connected. Never before have we had such power and possibility to truly come together as one humanity. And never before has there been such an urgency.

A Return to Love

Love as the watch word of the heart – of heart and hearths
keep vigil for our bountiful and beautiful planet Earth,
as mother, connecting us all through our time together –
woven through bonds of care.

If I can befriend myself
If I can be with my own shadow – and not turn away.
If I can listen with compassion to my fears, my needs, my loneliness and pain. And accept that in another.
Then there can be healing and a change.

If I turn away and deny my suffering –
Run for the nearest distraction – I am ignoring myself and missing the opportunity to grow and to heal.

Creating space to Heal

We need a safe space, a nourishing cosy environment and to give ourselves permission – to feel, to grieve, to be with whatever emotions we are carrying : our life story – which in turn affects the broader story of our shared humanity in all its pain & suffering, in shadow and in Light .

Through Christmas time, as collectively humanity bears witness to and invokes ( at least in most of the western world ) – the spirit of giving, of loving care and as the birth of the Christ child is celebrated – we may find that we have created just such an environment as is needed for healing.

May Christmas be a time of healing, of joy and affirming our true humanity illuminated by the enduring Light of Love.

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