Monday, December 24, 2007

Born in a Stable

Apologies may be in order here, my friends. We have reached Christmas Eve and the conversation I had hoped to be having with you about earth and soul, body and God remains unfinished. But perhaps that is as God wishes. Christmas is not finished. It is a beginning. The body and society, as a good friend said, is a large issue that has different meanings at different times. So does our perception of what it means to be human and fulfilled. Still, one thing remains. Perhaps the most important thing any of us can learn is to live gracefully within our skin, to let go of our attachment to physical states much as Joseph was told to let go of his attachments and marry Mary. Far from being an impediment to the spiritual life, the Body is most crucial to it. Our bodies are the temples within which our spiritual life comes to consciousness. The Buddhists teach that spirits love to be at home in the material world, which is why untrained ones will choose a quick reincarnation as an ant over the more deliberate and difficult process of being reborn a human being.

Someone – I wish I could remember who – said recently that perhaps we erred when we spoke of little Jesus born in a humble stable because no one would make room for him. This person went on to say that God could be born wherever he wanted to be born and that therefore the stable was really the birthplace of choice – the only proper place for God to appear. A stable is one of the most vivid places where mammal meets civilization: a house of fur and hair, a house where the sacred worlds of food and work have their home. To be incarnated is to be both fully divine and fully enfleshed.

Merry Christmas, dear ones.

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