When I was a little girl, my December ritual was to sit alone in our living room beside the twinkling tree lights 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 the 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 some heartbreaks that made the Christmas season too painful and I avoided much of it. Adopting my daughter and getting to play Santa for the first time dissolved those pains and I turned the car radio to the Christmas station. When O Holy Night played, I cried through the whole song knowing I was part of the weary world who at long last was 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. The part that holds my most painful wounds, my most naked need to be seen, valued and loved as well as my deepest capacity to fully love those around me.
Now I am a new grandma with a precious baby, a daughter and a son-in-spirit to love until my heart explodes. When I held my newborn 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. My wounds still hurt, my needs still poke me with longing, my capacity for love keeps expanding – and the stories of Christmas and the returning sun still offer me beautiful new ways of exploring these truest yearnings of the human heart.
It is from this experience with the stories of Christmas that I created the Spiritual Imagination and the Nativity Series starting Dec 4th. My intention is to carve out a time and space for us to explore Christmas imaginings using music, art and guided reflections. Click the link for more info and to register.
Even if you’re not able to join us, I invite you to spend some quiet time with the sacred stories of the season exploring the rich metaphors they offer.