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[mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”16″ align=”left”]O star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.” – Three Kings of Orient, by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. [/mk_blockquote]
The fact that the last full moon of this year will reach its peak on Christmas morning feels special. In a year filled with super moons, what will surely be a big, bright celestial light brings to mind another bright light that filled the sky two thousand years ago. Natural displays such as these make us take pause. We look up, in wonder and awe. We become quiet and still. In that moment we feel part of something greater than ourselves.
This moon may be just a moon. That star, it can be argued, may have been just a star. Yet each offer us more than their light.
That star captured the attention of people scattered all over the countryside. It drew shepherds and wise men to a tiny, insignificant stable within the City of David. What they saw lighted something deep in their hearts. They dropped to their knees. Though they wouldn’t really understand who or what they were seeing for decades to come, they somehow knew they were witnessing a miracle. And they were right. Their presence was honoring the birth of someone who would grow to change the world around him, and to continue to change us even today.
The light of that star still pulls at us today. In fact, many of our sweetest holiday traditions center around light. We light luminaries along sidewalks and driveways, we string twinkle lights in trees, shrubs and along rooftops, and candles glow in windows to reflect the light of that first Christmas light. These man-made lights still have the power to slow us down, and even stop us in our tracks, to take in their beauty.
Each night during this darkest month of the year, my family takes a moment to light candles in a wreath on our dinner table. When lit, the glow of their light works real magic – transforming a weekly taco dinner into a celebration of love and connection. In short, their light makes the ordinary feel special. And, when you stop to think about it, these ordinary meals are special, as is any time we’re able to gather with people we love.
The sense of connection and love that these Christmas candles brings out in my immediate family is just the tip of the iceberg. The holiday can bring out the best in us. We feel keenly aware of our connection to our community and to the world around us. We yearn to give of our abundance to those we know and to those we don’t know. We reach out in countless ways – cards, calls, donations, gifts of our time. We seek special ways – small and grand – to express our love. We laugh more often, smile more easily and hug with more abandon. We celebrate and honor the people around us. In doing so, we live more like the people we were created to be – kind, caring, open-hearted and open-handed.
In short, we, like Christmas lights, glow from within. But we have to be careful not to allow the hectic activity (the hustle and bustle of the season) to extinguish our lights. There is a certain stillness required for a flame to burn brightly. If we run ourselves ragged going to every party, running every errand, making every meal, decorating every corner, and so on, we will not glow with the light of love and connection. Instead, we will begin to feel small, dark and very, very tired.
The way to find balance in a season so filled with busy-ness is create little windows of stillness. An hour sitting by your fireplace. A morning at church. Regular time on your yoga mat. A quiet walk. Yes, even taco night at your kitchen table counts. Any moment that pulls you out of the swirls and ripples of the rushing river that is December can be restorative and rejuvenating. These moments of stillness restore us to the state of mind and heart that Christmas can foster.
This is the stillness that Buddhist monk, teacher and world-renowned author, Thich Nhat Hanh refers to in his words –
[mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”16″ align=”left”]The river must be calm to reflect the full moon.”[/mk_blockquote]
And, while the raging white-water of December does slow, the river of life keeps flowing. Finding – indeed creating – stillness so that we can better reflect the light around us is a practice which can carry us through the whole year.
Perhaps this is the gift of this last full moon. This moon, if we let it, can draw us into a moment of silence. A moment of stillness to reflect not only upon this special night, but upon the spark that lights us from within. The spark that makes each of us the very special, wonderful person that we are. The light of this spark can pull us as inexorably onward as that long ago star drew the wise men. What we witness in its light is the birth of someone who can change the world. That someone is the very best you and me that we can be … if we add stillness into our days. What a gift that would be.