Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lessons Of The Holidays

There are spiritual holidays and observances across our different religions that occur throughout the year.  But there is something about the winter holidays that seems to carry a special emphasis in our hearts.  The dramatic change in the sunlight; the chill in the air; for many, the snow on the ground; the warming glow in the fireplace; all seem to call for attention and reach into our most primordial being.  These primordial calls give us the opportunity to reflect over some of the lessons that various traditions offer up to us.

This is a time when the animal spirits are at rest with their kindred animal beings.  The souls of the animals and plants, and Nature herself, are quiet and at peace with the outer world.  And in their rest, they give peace to human souls.  They offer us a time of rest from our past heavy labors, and preparatory rest to strengthen us for our future labors.  There is a calm in the woods and the waters, a calm that begs us to reciprocate.

This is the time of the winter solstice.  It is the longest nighttime and the shortest daytime – an event of many possible interpretations.  The longest night can be our longest sleep; our time to be indoors with family and close friends; a time to be alone in lengthy private meditation and contemplation; a time with the least emphasis on our work.  It is a time when the tasks of the mind give way to the tasks of the soul.  It is also the time for a turning point in our lives.  It is the end of the regression of the light and warmth of the sun, and the beginning point of the sun’s return.  A renewed birth of the sun is also a time for a renewed birth of our lives.  As with all things in our lives, one moment is simultaneously an end and a beginning.  A finishing and turning loose of the old; a starting and embracing of the new.  The true New Year’s celebration.

This is the time of Hanukkah, when one celebrates the unceasing presence of the miracle of God in our lives.  The light of one candle burning continuously reminds us that God is with us in every moment.  It is we who forget to be similarly with God in all that we do, and must be reminded.  The other eight candles of the Hanukkah menorah, commemorating the one day’s supply of oil that miraculously burned instead for eight days, affirms for us that God’s illumination will be with us throughout whatever darkness may shadow our lives.

This is the time of Christmas, when we are reminded that great spirituality flows from the most humble of places.  A humility of the heart, not necessarily of place.  Riches of gold, frankincense, and myrrh may be the measure of wealth by humans.  But it is the wealth of the soul, enriched by God’s presence and surrounded by family and friends of whatever social status, that is our true measure.  Regardless of one’s circumstances, a home can be made for us out of the most basic of materials in the simplest of places.  Our spiritual birth requires only two spiritual “parents” as was taught to us: to love God with all our hearts in every moment; to love one another as equally as ourselves.

Let no person be disconnected from one another as we live each moment within God and with all of God’s creations.  Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Vastness Of God

Want to know how vast God is?  Stand outside on a cloudless night in August with no moon or city lights, and try to count the myriad stars splashed across the sky in all directions.  Stand on a mountain top and try to imagine how many more mountains rise up behind the few tops you can see.  Stand on a coastal beach and try to conceive of how many ocean waves there are between you and land on the other side.  That is the vastness of God.

Then look into the mirror.  There you will see God’s attention to detail, your unique component part of all that vastness.  It is one of the many mysteries about God – the unfathomable vastness of creation, yet the focus on each single unique detail that is You.  And all Others.  And all other Forms on this planet.

Therein lies the Lesson.  As we strive to think larger, on a much broader plane, far more inclusively – thinking as God thinks – and less on our individual self-centered wants, we need to remember God’s example.  It is in the details played out within the biggest picture, the paying attention to and taking care of each part, that combines together to create the totality of this Universe.  A painting requires myriad dots of color swept by perhaps thousands of brush strokes for the substance of the ultimate picture to come into full view.  So it also takes each individual coming together to create a human race.

God made the billions of us.  God made each of us.  With full attention to the details.  We need to respect, and seek to emulate, such careful attention to detail while never losing sight of the purpose of the resulting sum.  All of humanity matters.  But so do our details matter.