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Saturday, December 20, 2008

I was underneath the tree and thinking about the stars.

For Catholics in the Unites States the official Christmas season began three weeks ago, at the start of Advent. Although for many people Christmas ends the next day, in my culture Christmas lasts until January 6th. I knew a wonderful priest by the name of Father Douglas, and he preaches at the Newman Center in Amherst, Ma and he used to stand really firm on this. He would "order," us with a gleeful look on his face to not stop the celebrating and the joy and the dancing and the carols until the 6th.

However, I'd like to take it even further than just five weeks.

In the book Jesus and Buddha As Brothers Thich Nhat Hanh writes about the Buddhist tradition of "Beginning Anew," and compares it to the Christian idea of baptism and being "born again." In a chapter called "Let the Child Be Born Unto Us," taken from an address he gave December 24th 1996 he asks all Christians to recognize that

Jesus Christ is born every moment of our daily life- not only on Christmas day, because every day is Christmas day, every minute is a Christmas minute. The child within us is
waiting each minute to be born and born again

(A bit more info: The Globe recently ran an interesting article about the intersection of Buddhism and Christianity and reactions to the concepts from everyone to lay people to the Pope. Since I have been studying this intersection since high school when Grandminister of Funk Toro wrote me one of the nicest letters I have ever received, I found this small media piece interesting.)

I live my life mindfully. At least, I try to. It's takes discipline, and it's something that needs to be actively practiced. Because of this practice I hold the belief that Christmas and the idea of Christmas can be every moment of every day. You can interpret that secularly to mean that every day should be filled with the goodwill and inclinations of generosity that permeate "the holidays." I think that's fine and can certainly cause more good than harm. On a more theological level I would also add that every moment can be rebirth of spirit, a confirmation of purpose and a redefining of salvation. And although I experience it as a Christian, I also believe you don't have to be any particular religion to live your life that way.

Merry Christmas Saturday, everyone!

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