the christian story is one that keeps intriguing and baffling me. what is this thing that we’re celebrating today?
in the mountainous region of the german speaking alps, where i grew up, the image of the naked little baby jesus in the manger is the predominant one for the christmas story. maybe this is one of the things that pulls us so, maybe this is part of the new covenant: replacing sin with innocence.
not that i know what sin is, or what innocence is, but i have a sense of them: that innocence is the fresh, unspoiled purity of a newborn – oh, more than that: it is the embodiment of the deep, all-loving awe that inspires us as we see, feel, connect with such a precious being.
sin, on the other hand, that word makes me think of burden, of separation, defilement and the destruction of innocence – an image that comes up is that horrible one, of the newborn thrown out in the garbage.
this is extreme. both images, in fact, are extreme, and if we pitch them against each other, we will only experience unhappiness. what can we do, then, and, seeing that today is christmas eve, what can we take from the image of the newborn baby jesus?
i know that nothing will stay fresh or unspoiled forever – be it a newborn, a landscape, a beautiful object, a relationship. that includes my relationship with the divine. but what i also know is that purity appears again and again, and even more so, that i can always reach for that deep, all-loving awe. i can always keep my heart open for that, and that will, i hope, protect me. maybe not from the smaller burdens that i heap upon myself and others as i imperfectly walk through the day, unmindful and disconnected so often, hurtful sometimes. i fervently hope, though, that the knowledge, memory and experience of the purity of this all-loving awe will protect me from the ultimate sin of throwing away that wondrous goodness.
and that even if i do, there is a chance that the ever-returning purity of love and grace will touch me and awaken me from sin, that this awakening will come in the middle of that cold night and touch me with its light.
this is what i muse today, this christmas eve morning. may you all be blessed.