We focus on happiness at Christmas, for ourselves and those we care for, but we often end up feeling disappointed, empty even; something is missing. Our presents and celebrations are all associated with giving happiness to others and experiencing something of the universal joy of Christmas ourselves; but sometimes it just does not happen. To more fully share in the joy and peace of Christmas we need our imagination, one of the greatest gifts we are given, and allow it to guide us through the music, prayers, readings and symbols of Christmas and see the world through new eyes. Without our imagination much of what we experience stays at the surface and we miss the obvious. Yet, nothing has to change about what we experience and do but the way we see it can. Then, our experience of the Christmas season can be transformed; it just takes a little reflective, quiet time.
This is where our faith and our natural urges to discover the happiness we are promised can merge. A wise Franciscan priest (Richard Rohr) recently commented that many people, ‘could save themselves a fortune in therapy costs if they could find a way to see the world as it really is’, a world graced with God’s presence. A presence we are challenged to recognise in the birth of a child.
We might consider what the celebration of Christmas is really about. Could we in our reflection spend time asking what love is and what place it has in our life? What can a baby being born in poverty to a family on the move possibly teach us about love? What about gifts, could these symbols of love that so easily drift into becoming empty tokens, invite us to reflect on the why of them? Can they help us see that we are immersed in love, all of us, but we will never see it unless we discover the new eyes that the season of Christmas offers us?
So this Christmas give yourself a little time being in the present moment, wherever you can find it, and gently allow your experiences to speak to you; the joys and sorrows of family life, the closeness of those you love, the absence of those who cannot be with you, and allow God to share that moment with you.