The Spirit of Christmas

Christmas cookie at San Dominico School

Be it known that I love cookies so, alleluia!, the holidays are here.

Christmas cookie at San Dominico School

Christmas cookies at San Dominico School during Tableau reception.

Now that I have your attention I want to talk about Christmas, not the “holidays”.  I love the spirit of Christmas, the coming of Jesus. There, I have said it.

Gardening, like Christmas, is about hope and peace. Many of us garden for that peace and tranquility of working with the earth, and the hope the things we grow will thrive. We have faith in life, we believe things will get better if we tend them well.

Christmas is a different kind of hope and peace. It really came home to me this year, having just attended the annual Tableau at San Domenico School where both my wife and daughter attended. It is the oldest private school in California and has been performing the Christmas Tableau for 108 years against the backdrop of a Fra Angelico set, a Dominican monk in the 15th century.

Fra Angelico - altarpiece for the church and convent of San Domenico in Florence 1423

Fra Angelico, a Dominican monk, painted this altarpiece for the church and convent of San Domenico in Florence 1423

The Tableau is a series of scenes from the Christmas story unfolding gracefully by the student actors dressed in Medieval costumes as the wonderful choir sings classic carols in Latin, accompanied only by occasional bells. It is quite touching, both solemn and joyful.

Jesus was born in a time of great strife in the world, with the Romans terrorizing the Mideast, and the Jews being persecuted.  Prophecies foretold there would be better days, a Savior would be born whose goodness and love for mankind would bring peace.

Christians believe that Jesus is that savior, and are joyful at this time of year that He was born, bringing about a religion of peace and love. I don’t know much about religion really, all the prophets seem to talk about peace and goodness; and all organized religions, Christianity included, have waged war to prove how good they are.

It is easy to get caught up in cynicism and to condemn the individual hypocrisies of religion.  We have learned to be wary of zealots who have very narrow definitions of their religion, preaching one “right” way.  It seems almost fashionable to be anti-religious because of all the atrocious things that have happened in the name of religion.

On the other hand, faith in God is comforting on a very personal level.

Thunderstorm cloud sunset, Fredericksburg Texas

At the school performance I found myself comforted to be among believers of peace and love, in an atmosphere of hope.  Peace is possible for those who follow the teachings of Jesus. I appreciate the way the nuns presented this message as they introduced the Tableau; asking us only that we open our hearts to the message of hope that is Christmas.

How can that be a bad thing? I am glad to have been reminded that the world is more than the headlines we see in the newspapers.  If only for a brief moment this is the season to be glad that Jesus was born, that Christianity started, that a hope for peace is genuine, and there is a Way to achieve it.

It is not scientific, is not even practical, and even if most people, including most Christians, don’t truly practice the teachings of Jesus, there is still the hope.  I do hope; I do believe in God.  It is good to be reminded of our best dreams. That is the spirit of Christmas.

Poinsettia 'Monet Twilight' Euphorbia pulcherrima red foliage flower bracts, Christmas plant

In the Christmas story, the Kings brought gifts to Jesus, and now somehow Christmas has become a season of extravagant, commercial gift giving that we universally decry.  But, if only for a moment, let’s think of all this frenzy of gift giving as Joy Gone Wild. As incredible and impossible as it is, such excess would only make sense if Christmas were actually a true story. Wouldn’t it be nice?  Peace on earth –  now that’s a reason to party. I think I will have another cookie …

I suppose I have not said this very eloquently, but Gardening Gone Wild has given me an excuse to write this down.

The world is not going to change anytime soon, but as individuals we can do better, religion aside, and be comforted that we are loved by friends and family – amazing and unscientific itself. Forget religion, forget if you want that Christmas is what brought on this naïve, happy optimism.  Thinking about how peace might come about and acting as if we love one another will make the world a better place, if only the small world of the people around us.

yellow gerbera backlit with bright light

This is not the first year I have gotten caught up in a bit of spirituality. Tis the season I suppose, literally a season of renewal. Since pagan times humans have celebrated the solstice in the dead of winter. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah symbolizes the lighting of candles to renew light. Hope is everywhere. Just don’t listen to the news. Unplug. Hang out with those you love.

I have looked back to see what I have written this time of year for Gardening Gone Wild and found:

Red and Green at Christmas: – How did red and green become so ubiquitous at Christmas time?  There seem to be several different stories, all wrapped up in the origins of the Christmas tree.

I Have Faith – This is a spiritual time of year, and a time to renew faith in God.  Whether a personal god, the pagan gods, or a god of doctrine and formal beliefs, any true belief is a comfort.  A comfort that there are bigger things than us, that we exist in a larger spirit.  Life will always go on.

I wish you all joy, and peace, in this Christmas season. Take a moment to give thanks for what ever it is that brings you hope for a better world. Blessings.  Have a few cookies.

from Gardening Gone Wild http://gardeninggonewild.com/?p=29518

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s