So, December has arrived, my sons have opened the first windows on their chocolate Advent Calendars from Grandma, Bill has opened all the windows on his more traditional Nativity scene…. I purchased it 3 months ago to help them learn about the Christian meaning of Christmas…it took 5 minutes to open but he named all the Nativity people, so I must have done that job ok…
It’s a few days since the open house event “Cow Day 5” at the home of some of our lovely friends.
Christmas may at first glance seem nothing more than an opportunity for the retailers of the world to cash in on greed, “gotta-have-it-now” consumerism, and the desperation of parents to find a way to show their children love. You may think it has nothing to do with yoga. And I guess traditionally, it doesn’t.
Except, thanks to one inspired mother, B, in our community, it does. Not for her, but for me. B was motivated to create Cow Day because she was striving to demonstrate the real meaning of Christmas to her children. B and her family have a strong faith. They are part of a small community that meets in the homes of its members, or at the beach, or anywhere else they can be together and affirm their beliefs and their love for God through Christ, and celebrate their friendships and offer one and other support. They more clearly demonstrate the meaning of Christian living and real community than any other group I have encountered. They welcome me and my sons (my husband does not wish to come, and that is his freedom) into their church, and I feel truly blessed that they accept me with all my doubts, with my yoga philosophy in my heart, and with a desire to know more about their faith and find my own.
The big question this week, on the minds of many mothers I know, is what to tell your children if they tell you they are not sure they believe in Father Christmas any more. Many have offered suggestions, and my good friend S found this solution, which is just about how I hope I will tackle the issue when the time comes…wellthereyougo
So, why rattle on about Christmas and Santa Claus and Cow Day 5 and yoga? Because of the magic this festival brings, and because it is an opportunity to celebrate all that is good in the world – love, friendship, community, charity, giving freely and without expectation.
As my friend B points out, FC really is a great representation of Christ, of God, because in her house her children receive presents to celebrate Christ’s birth – and that he came to offer us His love regardless of whether we deserve it. In His eyes, good or bad, we are all loved. I also do not warn my children of good behaviour, I do not want them to think that they are unloved or abandoned because of minor transgressions – that is not unconditional love. In our family too, we celebrate Christmas as being about love given without expectation, family, friendship, community. And so we headed off to Cow Day 5, pennies & pocket money in hand, and helped raise enough to send a small farm to those in need.
It was a great representation of all the philosophy of yoga too – it led to unity. A community held together by a common desire, to be united in Love, to be the best people they can be, to raise children who make good, healthy, conscious choices. To give freely what we could so easily spend on excess at this time of year to those in real need. Not in search of reward, but in celebration of living with and in Love.
Of course, in pre-Christian times, it was Yule that we celebrated at this time of year. The Druids went deep into the forest for Mistletoe, which represented the seed of the Divine, and as the longest day arrived, we celebrated the dark half of the year relinquishing itself to the light half – the seed of the Diving telling of the rebirth of the Sun King, the Giver of Life…our celebrations are not so different, whichever faith or tradition they come from. Evergreens were sacred because they did not die in the dark months, so they came again represent the Divine, the Immortal, the Infinite…God…What is Jesus if not the Giver of Life, a celebration of his birth, an understanding that God’s love means that no matter dark it gets, the light will return?
Unity…although I sometimes feel my pick & mix approach to faith is confused or contradictory, I cannot help but see the similarities, the sameness in it all, I enjoy seeing the unity underlying the different approaches to faith; ignore the differences, seek out the synchronicity…I only hope that those I love never mistake my seeking for disrespect, nor my questioning for arrogance; I am curious, and yet to find my answer for the calling in me and which feels conflicted when I try to follow only one path, so I meander & endeavour to integrate those elements I find in one that are reflected in another…
Christmas for many is not so much about receiving as giving, not about the glitz and frills, but about family & friends. The New Year approaching causes the least conscious of us to reflect & reconsider. Resolutions are a way of recognising that there is always potential for change, an opportunity to make better choices, and when better than as the Year turns and the lengthening days bring renewed hope?
There is never a better time for practising mindfulness, because being at close quarters with family in the festive period is a classic time for frayed tempers & bad behaviour…don’t dwell on the past, nor skip too far in your thoughts of the future…even at this time of year, your breath is your best friend, keeping you present, so take a deep breath…smell the pine needles, the orange and cinnamon, the nutmeg and open fires….exhale and see that the other person is you… and be truly thankful for those that you spend this time with, for they are your community, and in loving them, come to love yourself…and if you seek unity, let this be where it starts.