For as long as I can remember I’ve had mixed feelings about holidays. As much as I love the change in rhythm, I’ve never been able to look past the fact that many of our holidays in the United States celebrate and venerate what may well be humanity’s greatest blunders.
If the story of the life of Jesus Christ is true, for instance, the fact that His birth His resurrection are celebrated gloss over the fact that He was rejected and executed by well-meaning, “good” men and women like you and me is thinly, but effectively whitewashed by stylized crèches, a hefty dose of commercialism, and a healthy admixture of pagan rituals (a bunny that lays eggs, really!?!) that divert our attention from the real meaning of the celebration.
Thanksgiving, too, is not without controversy. I was told as a school-aged child that Thanksgiving marks the day that the kind and helpful Native American Indians helped the Pilgrims by giving them food, showing them new farming techniques, all of which helped the Pilgrims survive harsh New England winters. We colored cute pictures of Pilgrims and Indians but we were never really told much about the near decimation of millions of Native Americans that soon followed. We celebrate Thanksgiving now as if the tragedy had never happened. Somehow family, food, and football make it seem justifiable.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not against holidays as a rule, but I do feel it important that we not lose the underlying meaning of the time we take “off” from our normal routines. These holidays ought to teach our children how to be better people while allowing us to shrug off the cares of the world for long enough that we regain our perspective and focus on what truly matters.
When we scan the pages of human history, we see that we have made some pretty outrageous mistakes as a race. If we did indeed mock and attempt to remove the King of Kings from the earth because His talk and example of righteousness inconvenienced us and forced us to look at what we were doing wrong, then shame on us. Whether we rationalize our forefathers’ behavior 2,000 years ago by the thought that the whole thing was predestined and actually a gift is a personal decision, but to celebrate it and venerate it…isn’t that going a little too far? And if mass murder, forced relocations, and the appropriation of land were justifiable as the cost of progress, then say it like it is, but don’t stuff it and dress it up.
We can numb ourselves with sweet treats or tryptophan or make sweet songs and heartwarming traditions that gloss over these tragedies, but what good does that do, really? It makes us feel good at a certain level, but what good does it do? How does what we do in these precious times of family, reflection, and frivolity make the world a better place? Or less ambitiously, how do these times “off” bring us closer to understanding the hearts of those who gave so freely and selflessly of themselves?
I don’t feel I have all the answers to these questions, but I do feel it is important to raise these questions. My hope is that these thoughts will compel you to think a bit more about it yourself so that we can work together to take full advantage of the wonderful holiday times we are so privileged to enjoy. To do this we must understand the purpose, the “reason for the season” as they say, but in a way that goes deeper than we traditionally have and typically do.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the holidays and how we can make better use of them! Don’t be shy…
3 thoughts on “What Good?”
Giving birth to something anew, celebrating with a zeal for life, centering our hearts concerns to that which truly matters, the re-birth of Love in expression through the forms we are blessed to reside in, would be a good start.
We’ve been considering the nature of wisdom, and truth, in philosophy class, of late. I couldn’t help but notice, the consciousness’s stubborn tendency to overcomplicate, and layer matters of such simplicity. The never-ending arguing at the level of the mind, the relentless resistance to see the truth for what it is, and rest in that. For as you outlined, it would require a certain willingness to see things “heaven forbid” differently, and do things differently, little-lone everything!
For such is the nature of the liberating influence of the Truth, it sets us free.
Free from what?
From our outworn, overused, ignorant tendency to excuse ourselves from the process.
We all bear a pregnant soul, which is seeking to give birth to creative expression through the beautiful form that is us. For this to happen we need to start, the moment of onset of inspiration to do so.
We each have something wonderful to contribute, be it a kind word, a held tongue, a feeling not allowed to grip our heart, or an outpouring of radiant love casting a shadow out of another in need…. the list goes on, and yet, what a perfect time, for a perfect subject, to share with the perfect people we are blessed to be with. The holidays to come warrant special consideration, and special care. That those precious ones we know might see, through us, something different, a different quiet stillness, that says peace be unto you, let us share amidst such a radiant stillness, that no holiday will ever be the same, that each one moving forward might be handled with Sacredness, in deep consideration of the nature of the err’s of our past and the present assumption of responsibility that nothing of that nature occur ever again.
I shared some of the same thoughts as you when I was growing up. I remember how confused I was when someone told me that the crucifixion was required because we’re sinners. I remember asking why someone had to be crucified and why no one accepts the excuse that “I’m a sinner, I couldn’t help it” when something wrong is done. I was fortunate because these seemed to be questions my mother had, so although I heard these things from others, it was not the line of thinking that I was brought up with.
When my niece was a little girl, she was in a Christmas play at her church. I assumed it would only cover the birth of the King of Kings but it covered the crucifixion as well. I couldn’t watch it and had to leave the room. The birth was a real celebration and I was amazed how the people focusing that event could show the horror of the cross and suggest that that was supposed to happen. It doesn’t make sense or ring true to me.
I do love this time of year because there does seem to be an openness of heart in many. For Thanksgiving, my friends and family seem to focus on what they are thankful for rather than how the holiday was initiated. Christmas as a sacred time. The King of Kings showed us that there was a different way to live, that we could do what he did and more. The time before New Year’s is one of reflection on the events of the current year as well as the upcoming year. Am I consciously moving in a right direction and am I letting the truth find expression through me? These are at the fore of my thinking these days and the main reason I tune in to your blog. It helps to know there are others who realize there is a purpose and reason for being here on earth at this time.
Bravo! You raise a very intriquing consideration that serves to uncover and release us from the hypnotic influences surrounding the holidays. So often the eagerness of looking forward to the holidays ends up not fulfilling the promise of them. In terms of fulfilling the promise of them I can see the need to treasure the time to acknowledge and deepen the quality of relationship with the individuals we find ourselves with and as time is available for self reflection to strengthen our sense of purpose for the influences of God to increase on earth.