The house is hushed and warm and soft. Santa is on his way. And before he comes, Gentle Reader, I have a few quiet moments to share with you. Let us rejoice.
Once again, we went to a local church's Christmas Eve service. We love the pagan pageantry. The squawking, bleating menagerie on the altar—a lamb, two tiny baby goats, ducks, geese, two donkeys (one dressed as a reindeer), a runaway chicken, bunnies, and a pot-bellied pig. A real live baby Jesus, toddler angels in tinsel wings, and pint-sized wise men bravely belting out their solos. Endless singing, and sitting and standing and sitting and standing, and more singing, and praying, and transubstantiative snacks for those who felt spiritually peckish. And the best of all is when the lights go out and we become a human menorah, passing the light of God from candle to candle until the whole congregation is literally glowing, the light of God literally radiating from all of us and lighting up his house.
I frickin' love that stuff.
It's all kindergarten lessons for the masses. It's all ways of using our different intelligences to engage us in very simple explanations about what's what. I just taught a bunch of kindergarteners that a menorah is our body and the oil or candles it holds is the light of God, shining out from our material selves, and so when God commands us to light the Chanukah candles, he is really saying, “hey, dial in to me, because I am you! I am inside you and outside you and all through you. Treat yourself very well, because you are me. Let my light shine, by letting your light shine.”
I did not use those exact words to the kindergarteners. But you get the idea. And tonight, as we celebrated the Winter Solstice and the divine nature of reality, I admired the manifold ways in which humanity tries to get the message across to other humans.
It's funny how literal people can sometimes get, and how they can memorize the letters of a word without ever waking up to the fact that “c-a-t” means “furry feline, hairballs, cuddling, hunting birds, playing with mice, sleeping in the middle of the bed, love, annoyance, scratches, meows, snuggles.” They'll say, “oh, yes, c-a-t! I love that string of letters. It looks so shapely.” —This literalness has always stuck in my craw about Christianity. I always felt they were missing the point.
If you ask me, what Christians feel is so special about Jesus is not germane to just one dude. What's special about him is the truth of life, which runs through every living thing. He could have been anybody. He's just an example. Like when you're telling a word problem, and someone has to go to the store and buy seventeen apples. To give a general shape to this someone, so people don't get stuck on pedantic details, we call her “Mary.” But whom she is is almost irrelevant.
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time there was a Reiki Master. He was a Leo, from a podunk town with a bakery and not much else, and like many other Reiki Masters had a second job (carpenter). He had a typical Jewish wife. Apparently this particular Reiki Master was really good at his job. He was charismatic, really connected with the Big Good Thing, had a lot of practice, and like your average Leo took his work very seriously, worked on a grand scale, and believed he was on a mission. Perfect for a Reiki Master. He had a lot of very happy clients, and worked on a distinctly sliding scale, making him even more popular. He was like a Reiki Master Without Borders. It is possible that there have only been a few Reiki Masters of similar power in all of history.
I get that.
Where the Christians get caught up is they think Jesus was unique when in fact his whole point was that he was just one part of a whole universe of God, like a dandelion, or a star, or a homeless bum. That whole this-is-my-body-this-is-my-blood thing? My son and I do it with our oatmeal all the time. Put your energy into something, recognize that we are all minor parts of one big thing, and, yeah. Of course a communion wafer “is” the physical body of a dead carpenter. Also, since he formed a lineage, as all Reiki Masters do, his energy is still kicking around, just like physical DNA. So that whole rising from the dead thing...well, yeah. No big deal, because we all do it. Even those of us who don't have children. Every time we share our energy with the world around us, every time we leave our energetic fingerprint on something, it stays there in the universe.
It's like a dance. When we create and feel a beautiful dance, we need not be sad that only we got to feel it, or that when it ended it was over, because now that we've created that energy, it's in the universe forever. It's still here. Isn't that the Second Law of Thermodynamics, anyway? Conservation of energy?
There are so many ways of drawing our attention to the Thing. We dance tango in order to feel the Thing...but sometimes we get sidetracked into focussing on the aspects of the Thing that are without us, shortchanging (even “disastrously shortchanging”) the aspects that are within us. We ascribe to various religions, so that they, with their pageantry and their rituals, can draw our attention to the Thing. We do yoga and Buddhist retreats and pranayama, we take up gardening, we fall in love, we become Olympic athletes, we die in the name of science...all as ways of connecting with the Thing.
It's understandable. The Thing is so various, so beautiful, so new, and it is every colour and every flavour. But some of those flavours are especially delicious and when we stumble upon them, we want to experience them as much as possible. And it helps to have some kind of physical reference frame through which we connect with/remember about the Thing. The Thing is always there, inside us, outside us, everywhere, but it helps to have an interfacing system. We mortals are not good at staring directly at the sun, after all. We need shades to help us see better.
I am about to go be Santa Claus...or Santa Claus is about to live inside my body for a short time so he can deliver presents. Potato potahto. There is a Santa Claus energy in the universe, and however it manifests is irrelevant. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
And he exists inside you.
Merry Christmas Eve.