Monday, November 24, 2008

no Us and Them

Hurry up and wait!
While our Christmas culture sends me scurrying to put my money where my heart is - in church i get the message to slow down and wait. Wait for the advent of something new.

Expect the unexpected!
While we get busy with the well worn routine of Christmas preparations - spiritually the whole thing is really about a change. How can we prepare ourselves for this new “happening”, while we’re so preoccupied with family, church, & cultural traditions?

So often, I find truth in the midst of such contradictions. In the effort to arrive at a balance between seemingly opposing poles, I discover that “sweet spot”. In the teeter-totter, push and pull between secular and spiritual, worldly and other-worldly pursuits, i hope for maybe just a moment - somewhere in the season - where comforting nostalgia meets the challenge of an arriving new year. In a silent moment, or out of a song or a story, or even out of a box - the universe speaks to me.

Here’s my recipe for cooking up that sweet spot.
First, take a deep breath. Very deep. Don’t’ just fill your lungs (let that one go). Draw the air deep down into your belly so that it sticks out to it’s full potential.

Now, look down and take note. That’s what you’re gonna look like on New Year’s day. Stop kidding yourself about it and just expect it. You’re gonna be full up of the good stuff and maybe fed up too.

All that extra oxygen in you from that deep breath (you can exhale now) is gonna help you relax and let go of the stress of trying to meet all those expectations. Repeat this breathing procedure often. At least once on the hour – and every time you feel like you’re losing balance. You can do this in a crowd. It is much more socially acceptable than screaming. No one will know you’re detoxing – except for that calm look on your face.

Okay, once you’ve got a grip on the whole “feasting – not feasting” thing the next ingredient is to Shop local. Everything you’ve ever wanted can be ordered through our local retailers. It might take some extra time but there still is time enough - if you hurry. (Take another deep breath here.)

Shopping locally is like spending your money twice. Not only do you help employ your neighbours but they’ll spend their wages and municipal tax dollars in your community. Profits are re-invested locally instead of going off to WalMart’s head office at the North Pole.

Finally, the special ingredient for opening your heart to hear the angels sing in that sweet holyday moment is – are you ready – be a part of changing the world.

You thought I was going to say “give to the needy” didn’t you? Giving to those in need is part of what’s expected at Christmas isn’t it? Isn’t that what God did in that stable?

Now wait just a minute. (Deep breath.) Are people in need not in need every day of the year? Are there not more people in need with each passing year? You can check the facts with our food banks. That whole decade of prosperity that just went by also produced more people in need right here and around the world. And the one who suffered the most was Mother Earth.

What God did in that stable was to change the world. Jesus wasn’t a hand out – he was a hand up. There wasn’t much new in what Jesus had to say. He simply repackaged the ancient wisdom of prophets in parables and put them on the doorstep of those in both religious and secular power. And he certainly wasn’t the first prophet to be crucified for doing that.

So, what was it that changed the world for all time? What was it that put our calendars into B.C. and A.D.? What is it that makes it possible for any and all of us to find balance – Peace - in a world of extremes?

That’s what you’ve gotta wait for.
If you’re sure you know it – you’re sure to be surprised.
If you don’t have a clue – you’ve forgotten what you once knew.
Wait and watch and hope for a gift that is truth for the whole world
- and creates no “us and them”.

1 comment:

brenda said...

Well, Allan, you sure can write! This is one of the best Christmas reflections I've ever read, and while doing so I was thinking how perfect it would be for radio - you write as you speak. Any chance for Canoe FM? reminds me of Allan Maitland on "As It Happens" every Christmas with his great stories.

Your essay, with all its paradoxes and pointed particularities, is a gem in the Christmas hype of shallow sentimentalism.

Would you consider coming to the Writers' Christmas at the Pepper Mill next Tuesday night and reading it aloud?