Sunday, December 4, 2011

Getting Inside of Christmas

The Christmas season is upon us! The decorations are up, the music is on, the parties have begun, and the spirit of Christmas is present. But what special moment will make this Christmas one to remember?

"The outside of Christmas is visible. You can see it. It is there in Christmas trees, in holly, in toys, in gay store windows, in gifts wrapped in bright paper. The outside of Christmas can be heard. In chimes, in carols, in organ music, in the voices of the choir, in sleigh bells. The outside of Christmas can be tasted - there's the turkey and cranberry sauce, the pumpkin pie and candy.

In the hurry and scurry of the Christmas season, most of us limit our contact to the outside of Christmas. We are so busy that we do not have time to get inside Christmas, so Christmas becomes for most of us a surface experience. To discover the true riches of the Christmas season we must penetrate beneath the surface; we must get inside of Christmas. Christmas will get inside of us and we will have a truly mystical experience.

No one knows how to go about exploring the inside of Christmas. Each of us must go adventuring to find the inside of Christmas in his own way. One thing is certain and that is that we must get away from the turmoil and the crowds and the outward excitement that are so much a part of the outside of Christmas. We must get away from the visible and journey into the invisible.

We must quiet the mind. We must seek the inside of Christmas in the silence; we must look for it in our deeper selves. We may go alone into a cathedral or chapel late at night to meditate. We may sit alone by the fire in our homes after all the others have retired and open ourselves to the inflow of good will and joy and peace. We may take a long walk under the stars, or through the softly falling snow. We may sit by the bedside of a sleeping little one and think about the miracle of childhood.

When we take the time to seek and find the inside of Christmas, the Christmas spirit will glow with a new radiance within our hearts."
Winferd A. Peterson, Ideals Magazine, Christmas Issue; Vol. 15, No. 4, October 1958, Ideals Publishing Co.

I recall many quiet inside moments of Christmas over the years. In 1977, I found myself celebrating Christmas by myself for the first time in my life. I was a foreign student living with a Japanese family in the small town of Iwamizawa. On Christmas eve, I left the house alone after dark and began walking on the snow packed streets on a quiet, peaceful beautiful night with stars twinkling in the sky. I pondered many things and reflected upon the first Christmas night. It gave me a chance to think about my family and those things on the inside that make Christmas so special.

I recall another busy, hectic day about a week before Christmas when I was overwhelmed with Christmas chore minutia. I left home on a snowy, cold evening to begin my last whirlwind shopping binge when suddenly the power went out across the city. With the stores closed, I returned home, flipped the switch on the fireplace in my bedroom, lay down on the floor and stared into the beautiful flickering flame. I took a big breath and sighed. My world slowed to a beautiful halt. I enjoyed a calm, meaningful evening in the dark, still silence.

As a friend so poignantly stated, Christmas is a time of letting in. The malls and shopping centers let us in early and welcome us to stay late. Two thousand years ago, a young family found themselves in the cold because no one would let them in.

This Christmas I plan to take those few special moments to let in or get inside of Christmas. It helps me to align my perspective with gratitude and humbleness and to be my better self. I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas season both inside and out. . . "and as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!"