When I was a little girl, my December ritual was to sit beside the twinkling tree lights in our living room and imagine myself into the coffee table manger scene. I visualized myself with the shepherds underneath a Bethlehem sky full of angels until the angels and tiny God lying among the ox and cows felt real, became real to me. I wasn’t spiritually advanced, I did the same thing with the Santa’s Workshop pop-up scene that sprang to life when I opened our Ronco Christmas album cover. Both these imaginings were how I felt “The Christmas Spirit.”
When I grew up, I experienced heartbreaks that made the Christmas season too painful and I avoided much of it. Adopting my daughter and playing Santa for the first time dissolved those pains. When O Holy Night came on the radio, I cried through the whole song knowing I was part of the weary world who at long last been given a thrill of hope. I unpacked the manger set from my childhood and imagined myself into the scene again – but now the rich metaphors of the annunciation, nativity and epiphany unveiled truths of my own life. These Christmas stories – together with long winter nights and a longing for the sun – are a powerful gateway into a deep part of my psyche.
Now I am a new grandma with a precious baby to love until my heart explodes. When I held my grandson fresh from the womb – the angels singing at the Bethlehem birth became real for me in a whole new way, as did the desperate love of the parents and onlookers at the manger. The stories of Christmas and the returning sun continue to offer me beautiful new ways of exploring the truest yearnings of the human heart.
It is from these experiences that I created the online Advent Meditation Series starting Dec 4th. Let’s make time and space to enter together into the Christmas stories using music, art and guided reflections.
Even if you’re not able to join us, I invite you to spend quiet time with the sacred stories of the season contemplating the rich metaphors they offer.
For more info or to register, click here: Advent Retreat: Spiritual Imagination and the Nativity • Loyola Spirituality Center
Republished from November 2019