The holidays are only holy if we make them so.
Otherwise, the assault of modernity -- from crass consumerism to a 24-hour news cycle to the compulsivity of the wired world -- wrecks whatever we have left of our nervous systems, making the true spiritual meaning of Christmas seem as distant as the furthest star. It's only when we consciously carve out a space for the holy -- in our heads, our hearts and our lifestyles -- that the deeper mysteries of the season can reveal themselves.
The holidays are a time of spiritual preparation, if we allow them to be. We're preparing for the birth of our possible selves, the event with which we have been psychologically pregnant all our lives. And the labor doesn't happen in our fancy places; there is never "room in the Inn," or room in the intellect, for the birth of our authentic selves. That happens in the manger of our most humble places, with lots of angels, i.e. Thoughts of God, all around.
Something happens in that quiet place, where we're simply alone and listening to nothing but our hearts. It's not loneliness, that aloneness. It's rather the solitude of the soul, where we are grounded more deeply in our own internal depths. Then, having connected more deeply to God, we're able to connect more deeply with each other. Our connection to the divine unlocks our connection to the universe.
According to the mystical tradition, Christ is born into the world through each of us. As we open our hearts, he is born into the world. As we choose to forgive, he is born into the world. As we rise to the occasion, he is born into the world. As we make our hearts true conduits for love, and our minds true conduits for higher thoughts, then absolutely a divine birth takes place. Who we're capable of being emerges into the world, and weaknesses of the former self begin to fade. Thus are the spiritual mysteries of the universe, the constant process of dying to who we used to be as we actualize our divine potential.
We make moment-by-moment decisions what kind of people to be -- whether to be someone who blesses, or who blames; someone who obsesses about past and future, or who dwells fully in the present; someone who whines about problems, or who creates solutions. It's always our choice what attitudinal ground to stand on: the emotional quicksand of negative thinking, or the airstrip of spiritual flight.
Such choices are made in every moment, consciously or unconsciously, throughout the year. But this is the season when we consider the possibility that we could achieve a higher state of consciousness, not just sometimes but all the time. We consider that there has been one -- and the mystical tradition says there have also been others -- who so embodied his own divine spark that he is now as an elder brother to us, assigned the task of helping the rest of us do the same. According to A Course in Miracles, he doesn't have anything we don't have; he simply doesn't have anything else. He is in a state that is still potential in the rest of us. The image of Jesus has been so perverted, so twisted by institutions claiming to represent him. As it's stated in the Course, "Some bitter idols have been made of him who came only to be brother to the world." But beyond the mythmaking, doctrine and dogma, he is a magnificent spiritual force. And one doesn't have to be Christian to appreciate that fact, or to fall on our knees with praise and thanks at the realization of its meaning. Jesus gives to Christmas its spiritual intensity, hidden behind the ego's lure into all the wild and cacophonous sounds of the season. Beyond the nativity scenes, beyond the doctrinal hoopla, lies one important thing: the hope that we might yet become, while still on this earth, who we truly are.
Then we, and the entire world, will know peace.