When my husband and I were in Italy a few years ago, while walking among the many shops in Assisi, I saw through one of the windows a tiny little statue of the baby Jesus laying on a lotus flower carved out of wood. It was so eloquent and beautiful I took Him home with me, and now each morning I look into the eyes of this little one and He smiles back at me.
There are many holidays celebrated at this time of the year by many religions, and they are all sacred. I believe that the point I wish to make in this blog is universal to all Holy Days, so I choose the Holiday I am most familiar with -- Christmas.
The great theologian Meister Eckhart once said, We are celebrating the feast of the Eternal Birth which God the Father has borne and never ceases to bear in all Eternity. But if it takes not place in me, what avails it? Everything lies in this, that it should take place in me.
So many of us see these Holidays as a time to give gifts, which can certainly reflect the wonderful gift we have been given by the Divine. However, so often we get trapped in feeling that we have to buy gifts and please others in order for the Holidays to be enjoyable. It becomes more of an empty hassle rather than a loving kindness from the heart.
Rather than frantically trying to give the perfect gift that we think our love ones would like, what if we were to become that dwelling place where the Eternal Birth resides? This would truly be a gift of love! But what does it mean to allow the Eternal Birth to “take place in me,” and how does this become a gift to those around us?
Ah! would the heart but be a manger for the birth, God would become once more a little child of earth. Immeasurable is the Highest! Who but knows it? And yet a human heart can perfectly enclose it. To me these words from Angelus Silesius suggest that we can change the world if only we would prepare ourselves for the birth by loving God and practicing the perennial wisdom that all major religions teach.
Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism and other major traditions tell us that all of creation comes from the Divine, and cannot exist without the Divine, that the Divine dwells within all of us and unites us all, and that we can realize the Divine directly through a deep intuitive knowledge. The Saints and Masters knew that in order to get in touch with this sacred place we need to develop kindness, purity of heart, and humility.
As a child, when I first heard what Jesus said about there being two greatest commandments, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind… and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matthew 22:35-40), I realized that to follow these two covers all of the other Ten Commandments. I also realized that by following these two it is no longer a commandment but instead becomes a gift given freely out of our devotion to the Divine.
The great sage, Eknath Easwaran, tells us that whenever our humanity loses it’s way and forgets how to love, we are sent a divine incarnation to remind us how to come back to our Divine nature. He says, “The Lord of Love, immortal and infinite, comes as a divine incarnation in times of great crisis to rescue mankind from disaster. Sri Krishna, the Compassionate Buddha, and Jesus the Christ are supreme examples. In age after age, whenever violence and hatred threaten the world, the Lord comes down to inspire and protect those who turn to him, who live in harmony with the law of unity. He comes to protect such people from the heavy odds raged against them, and to reestablish peace on earth and good will among all. Yet there is another level on which this divine birth can take place. Every one of us has this choice: Shall I prepare for the divine birth to take place in my consciousness by abolishing my own selfishness? It is up to you and me to keep our doors open, to put up a little sign, "Ready for receiving an incarnation." But our house must not be cluttered up. It must be empty of selfishness and self-will. Only then can the blessed child be born in our humble hearts.
So, my friends, the way I see it is that it is up to us with the grace of God to prepare ourselves for this Eternal Birth by loving God with our whole being, which involves loving all of His creation including ourselves, as we are temples of the Divine. By loving God in this way hatred, greed, selfishness, jealousy, and other self-centered attributes fade away and we naturally become more and more a manger for the Eternal Birth. This is the gift we can give to ourselves, and to others, as we become the light that then shines within us. We become the manger in which the Divine Child dwells.
Love and Peace,
Blog originally published 12/12/16
Mary Mohs LVN, MA, RYT,