Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Really??

The lights. The parties. The presents. Time off from work. Well-wishing all around. Isn't it wonderful?

Christmas is almost here. Are we feeling "merry" yet? "Holly-Jolly"? We're trying. Maybe another glass of that eggnog-plus-special-secret-ingredients (you know, the one that's NOT for the kids) might help.😉

We want so much to be happy. Especially now, when everybody else is having warm fuzzy time 'round the fireplace. Everybody on Instagram is smiling at us. We're supposed to be happy.

This time of year can feel like it carries an extra weight, an obligation to be happy even if we don't know how, or don't think we can be happy.

What's wrong with us? Isn't this the season of joy? It's "the-most-won-der-ful-tiiiiime-of-the-year!" So put on a happy face. Suck it up, chump!

We try so hard...

We try to make Christmas joy happen. Or, at least, we try to make something happen that feels like joy. That's understandable. We don't want to be Scrooge. We want to do our best to be cheerful. Sometimes it goes pretty well. Occasionally it's a train wreck. Sometimes we have a total blast.

But there is one thing that always happens, every single year, no matter what.

It ends. January comes, and everybody goes back to work.

Even if we make the perfect Christmas, it doesn't last. Yet, we desire this "joy" with all the depth of our hearts, and not only at Christmas. All year we are searching for it, but we can't capture it. We can't construct for ourselves a happiness that is good enough for our hearts.

During the holiday season, perhaps we try harder. But why? Really! Maybe Scrooge is right. Maybe it is all "humbug."

Although the 21st Century Scrooge knows that his employees work more efficiently if they get an occasional break. He has the statistics on that. Periodic holidays are a factor in the management of human resources. Also, it gives a boost to the whole economy.

To put it simply, Christmas is good for business. 

But is that all we can say about it, ultimately? Maybe it would be better to forget about the whole "joy" thing. It's not practical. Whatever we do, we end up disappointed anyway.

But here's the thing: we are disappointed because we expect something but we don't know how to get it, we don't know how to make it happen.

[Everybody knows more or less what I'm going to say here. But that's not the point. This is not an abstract intellectual exercise. This is a meditation.]

We must take time to remember that the real happiness, the real joy of Christmas, does not have its source in anything we make.

The joy of Christmas is a gift. It is a gift freely given to us. A real wonder. An utterly surprising, amazing, unimaginable gift that has been given to each and every one of us without exception.

It's great to do what we can to celebrate this gift, remember it, enter more deeply into this joy. Our work, our health, our feelings are important to this celebration. But it's not about us creating joy for ourselves.

It's about the fact that joy has come into the world. We have been created for this joy. Joy is our destiny. Joy is here for us, as a gift we can receive and a path we can travel.

Maybe we don't "feel it" this Christmas. We are tired, overwhelmed, sick, or moody. We should ask for help. We deserve help. But if there's not enough help, still these things will pass. There are pains and sorrows in life, terrible sorrows even, but these also will come to an end (unless we insist on holding onto them forever).

However we feel, let's remember, affirm, and celebrate the fact that the joy we long for with all our being has come to us in a way far beyond anything we could have imagined. Joy is present as a gift, as the promise of a fulfillment, and as sustenance here and now for the journey toward that fulfillment, however hard this part of the journey may be.

Even if our hearts are filled to the brim with sorrow, we must never give up.

This Joy is greater than our hearts.