Christmas Day. For many people, it is a time set aside to honor the birth of Jesus and the spirituality embodied within him. A time for many to reflect on, and recommit to, the spiritual part of their life. It is a date that not coincidentally falls just after the Winter Solstice. As nature begins its annual renewal to a new flowering, so also our spirituality needs a continual renewal in order to fully flower. For roots to plant deeper, for stalks and trunks to grow higher, for branches to reach out further.
Most people are fully familiar with the story of Jesus’ birth as told in the New Testament Gospels. It is told beautifully and inspiringly; the public and religious celebrations enacted for Christmas can be quite moving to mind and heart regardless of one’s particular religious beliefs or affiliation. But as one focuses attention on the celebratory displays, the religious stagings, or loses oneself in the unbounded gift shopping that has come to so consume Christmas, do we take advantage of the occasion to contemplate the spiritual meaning of all of this? The lessons being made available to us to ennoble our Spirit? They are relevant and universal lessons drawn from the symbolism of the manger birth itself, lessons regardless of one’s particular faith, perhaps less obvious and often lost amidst the noise of celebration.
The first lesson of the manger birth is that it required a journey to be made. A taking leave from the ease of a known home, familiar people, and safe environment. A long and difficult journey made in order to arrive at a new place where the Spirit could make itself known. So also are we required to make such a journey away from our familiar environs and connections in order to find our true spiritual place.
The second lesson of the manger birth is that the spiritual self had to be awakened and birthed in order to be made real. The potential for our spiritual presence may always be within us, but its realization must be enacted, must be born from seeding, a gestation, and nurturing. As we must give a birthing to our own spiritual life after much preparation and with difficult effort.
The third lesson of the manger birth is that spirituality arrived, and was born into, a world of simplicity. No riches were required; no exultant setting needed. Our spiritual life lives in an uncomplicated, unadorned place, surrounded by and grounded to Nature’s essence; a simple manger, a bed of straw, swaddling clothes for warmth, in a barn surrounded by animals of help and sustenance. We can choose to bring luxury into our lives – our own forms of gold, frankincense and myrrh – but we know that they are not required. Unbounded love, quiet peace, and simple contentment are the true gifts that come from our spiritual being.
In respect for whatever may be your traditions and beliefs, may such gifts be a part of your spiritual birth at this Christmas time. Peace be within you always.
© 2013 Randy Bell