Christmas Eve 2019

Once more the year’s turned round.
We’ve come full circle on this small planet,
Spinning down the grooves of change,
Another revolution completed around the sun.

Another year older …
Another set of rings on the tree …
As seasons parade in endless procession
The people’s troubles and prayers remain the same:
The worries don’t change.
Generation after generation making the same mistakes,
So many thousands of circuits in a world filled with war and woe,
Full of sound and fury,
Bleared, smeared with toil,
The ebb and flow never-ending,
The grating sound of pebbles which the waves draw back
And fling at their return up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin
With tremulous cadence slow,
But bringing us always back to Christmas

Back to a place we’ve always known
Where we’ve never been before,
Back to a time that stands outside of time:
Not part of the regular orbit, but the axis of the year,
A still point, a fixity, the center post and ridge pole
Around which all the rest revolves.

Christmas: Telling us that history isn’t just chasing its tail,
Not merely repeating the same old tired story, over and over
Of dog-eat-dog, might-makes-right, every-man-for-himself, blow
Not a tale told by an idiot,
But assuring us that history has a direction and time has a purpose,
That lines are real, as well as circles
That the human saga has a goal
Still to be realized
Yet mysteriously present, already here among us,
That the Holy is enacting a new story on the earth.

Christmas is not a creed we have to believe in,
It’s not a feeling that comes and goes.
Christmas isn’t something that happened long ago,
Or didn’t happen, as the case may be.
Christmas isn’t a story we tell
So much as a drama in which all of us have become participants
Whether we feel like it or not,
Whether we believe in it or not,
Whether we like it or not.
Christmas is a reality, here-and-now
Just as love is a reality
And compassion a possibility hidden inside every interaction
Of how we choose to be with one another.

For whether we feel like or not, we are all brothers,
And whether or not we believe it, we are sisters, born of a single womb.
Whether we like it or not
We are all one tribe and share one fate.
Separateness is the illusion,
While interdependence is the plainest fact.

We know it in our heads
And when we know it in our hearts,
Then the center will be everywhere
And the circumference will have no boundaries
And the sun will rise on a new and different kind of dawn.

We join now in meditation.

In this moment of half light, half shadow,
The glow of candlelight and starlight,
We are able to look out upon the world
Not with the eyes of day
But with another kind of vision,
The illumination of faith, not sight,
A twilight where edges soften,
Harsh outlines begin to gentle
And the colors start to fade:
No more white or black, red or yellow,
But one common race of humankind,
And peace descends on all.

In this half light the familiar becomes strangely unfamiliar.
What we thought we knew seems more wonderful and sacred.
Our lives, the people who share our world, the things we took for granted
Seem more precious, more beloved,
And good will is a presence we begin to sense,
Palpable like a pulse, the heartbeat of a great organism, a world praying in unison
For a kinder earth, a more humane future.

Spirit of Candlelight,
Be with us, we pray
When this night has come and gone.
In the glare of conflagration,
In the harsh combustion of events,
Kindle these friendly lights
To guide us on the path.

About the Author

Gary Kowalski. The Rev. Gary Kowalski is a Unitarian Universalist minister and author of many books, including Revolutionary Spirits , Science and the Search for God , and The Bible According to Noah . He served congregations in Vermont, Washington, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and New Mexico

8 thoughts on “Christmas Eve 2019

  1. Hi, Abigail, I need to thank you particularly for posting this beautiful meditation, along with the information about its author. It genuinely saved my spouse’s Christmas Eve this past year. She is Unitarian, and came home from the annual vespers ritual at her church disappointed and wishing it had included a more profound reflection on the meaning of the day from a Unitarian perspective. I’d seen this post of yours earlier in the day. It was everything she had been hungering and hoping for. She has subsequently shared it with her pastor and several others. Thank you very much for sharing this true Christmas gift with your readers in the first place, and making that story possible!

    Liked by 1 person

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