A special Christmas message to all members of the Weekly Internet Meditation Group and to all meditators from Laurence Freeman OSB, Director, The World Community for Christian Meditation, 2002.
As a reminder that there is no false consolation in Christianity, the church’s readings for the run-up to Christmas have an apocalyptic quality. At times they seem to be more about endings than the great new beginning about to burst upon the world.
Up to the moment of Jesus’ birth we confront the turbulent end of the old world order, the death of the old gods of this world. And old gods, as we know from our personal lives, die hard. What a struggle the ancestral gods and their social ‘thrones and dominations’ put up as they feel their own passing.
Last night I heard a lecture by an Israeli woman from the Peace Now movement. She described the horrific slide into terror that has happened because of the violence on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli divide. Intimidation by the Israeli occupying forces is escalating and Israelis taking their children to school are terrified to park near a bus on a crowded street. The majority on both sides favor a non-violent settlement but both sides also believe there is no partner for such a settlement. The old gods are the powers of war and separation, reactive violence, fear and chronic distrust. In the land of Jesus’ birth they still seem very much in control.
The woman spoke coolly and rationally, with Jewish humor in the face of tragedy and, above all, with hope. I was reminded that hope is not the fantasy or desire for a good outcome but the inborn conviction, deeper than reason and closer, perhaps, to humor that things will turn out for the best. It is Mother Julian’s penetrating insight born from her profound experience of the Cross that ‘all will be well and all manner of thing will be well’.
What more powerfully than a child’s eyes meeting ours, searching and clarifying our own clouded depths, without fear or distrust, can convince us of this? Politicians and few religious leaders can do so. Philosophers quickly lose the thread. The pious never get it. The divine expresses itself with overwhelming fullness in innocence renewed. Meditation renews our innocence. The birth that took place in Bethlehem also happens, if we allow it, in the manger of our hearts. We have only to say, like Mary, the woman of hope, ‘let it be’. Our mantra is just this.
After meditation: from The Gospel of John 1:1-5, NRSV, Oxford University Press.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it.
Carla Cooper - firstname.lastname@example.org