Christmas Postcards From the Future

Photo: thelittlecorner.tumblr

Do we need Christmas postcards from the future? Maybe, because in order to see how things can be different we need a vision to move toward – to live into. What kind of future attracts us? What would attract you?

Christmas celebrates the incarnation of God (the good, joy, truth or beauty) in the world. This means that reality is fundamentally good and attractive to us – and we are a part of this reality. What about the world, then, attracts us?

This attracts me: a world that moves a bit slower, that is a little gentler, that watches out for each of us – no matter who we are.

Another attraction: a world rich in relationships that are mutually nourishing, deep, strong and transparent. This would be true for all kinds of relationships – with people, with institutions, with the environment.

I think postcards from the future arrive all the time – in our imaginations, in our dreams, in our interactions with others, in events in the world around us. But sometimes we aren’t paying attention, or have difficulty reading the postcard. The postcard is on the counter waiting for us, but we haven’t yet picked it up!

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Christmas Future

Photo: FunThingsToDo

Each year I select a word for the year – or perhaps it is actually more correct to say that a word selects me. Last year my word was “authentic” – one who authors or one who acts independently. And it was true – I did give voice to my own unique perspective in my dissertation work during this past year.

This year the word “joy” continually popped into my head. So “‘joy” will be my word for this year.

So what is “joy”? In my mind it is more than happiness – which relies too much on external events or relationships. To me “joy” is more of an interior state of being; the deep stillness below the waves, if you will. With joy, one has the ability to remain present, endure whatever comes, yet still feel delight and hope in reality.

Joy, as an interior state, allows one to view the world through different eyes or with a different mind. This means seeing beauty more readily, remembering wisdom, hearing love behind the words.

It also means seeing reality more clearly and envisioning what needs to change to make the world more beautiful, therefore more just.

Joy is a fitting word for Christmas – the incarnation or indwelling of God in the world – and for me for the coming year. Now I will have to wait and see what the year brings!

Photo: Pinmarklet.com

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Winter Solstice

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Photo: Winter in the Mountains,fotki.yandex.ru

We are nearly at the winter solstice. Darkness yields to light. Sort of a seasonal new year for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

We light candles.  We rekindle nurturing friendships. We bring light of all kinds into our hearts, our minds, our lives.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can not overcome it” (John 1:5).

Life of Pi

Yan Martel’s book – now movie, The Life of Pi is an exciting and entertaining story. But better still is the question proposed to the viewer at the end: which is the better story?

For belief in God, the viewer is encouraged to ask the same question – which life is the more exciting, intriguing, compelling life? The one with the viewpoint embracing belief in God or the random life, purposeless life without God? And it’s not simply intellectual assent to the existence of God that is being asked here. What is being asked is our willingness or capacity to trust, thereby flinging ourselves headlong into life itself – with all of its unknowns and all of its risks.

For myself, I couldn’t imagine returning to life directed my own vision or desires. That was too small, too gray, too safe, too hopeless. Life directed by existence or reality itself (God if you will) is far more exciting, colorful and bewitching than anything I could have dreamed up. Once you taste champagne and caviar . . .

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Nostalgia or Reality?

Recently I watched Woody Allen’s film, Midnight in Paris. In addition to an intriguing plot, the characters in the film are nostalgic, romanticizing the past and pining for eras gone by. One of the characters in the film makes the point that indulging in nostalgia is merely a way to escape from dealing with current reality as it is. I think this is true.

We might long for the days of the “horse and buggy” but we don’t include the stench of rotting horse manure, straw, flies and a lack of refrigeration in our longing for “days gone by.”

People wax on dreamily about “the good old days” which when you really stop and think – in too many ways – weren’t that good at all. I’ve watched relatives spend hours telling the same old stories and glorifying the “glory days” of an era, of high school, of college or whatever.

On the other hand, these same people often steadfastly refuse to engage in honest discussion regarding current cultural, social or political events – because this is complex, messy, requires reading, self-reflection and can make us uncomfortable.

Our culture promotes sinking into nostalgia with it’s glorification of the secularized holidays of Halloween, Christmas and Easter. It’s another way to sell products and¬†anesthetize us from facing the hard realities of our time. But it also prevents us from entering more deeply into the positive aspects of life too.

We can resist this however. Use these same holidays as a way to focus on life as it really is – both the positive and the negative. For example, go to both museums and homeless shelters, art exhibits and food shelves. Meet and talk with people from many cultures. Watch foreign films with English subtitles and try new ethnic dishes.

Reality and people are rich, diverse and fascinating – far more fascinating than social media, TV, Twitter and IPhones. Enter more deeply into reality. Experience life – your life – before it passes you by.

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