The holidays are here and regardless of your religious or spiritual tradition it is a time of faith and hope. Whether you celebrate the victory of the Maccabees, birth of Jesus, lengthening of daylight, or something else, they all include rituals of celebration and inspiration. Things will get better is the inherent promise of each.
These rituals draw us closer to our families and those who share our beliefs and cultural traditions. A shared belief is a powerful force that brings communion with others. These sacred practices touch us deeply at our very core. The feelings evoked from these rituals are unlike anything we experience in our daily lives. Although it’s been a while since I’ve actively practiced the religion of my childhood, it’s still a magical experience to be in the grandeur of an architectural masterpiece and hear a chorus of unique voices blending beautiful harmonies in reverence of something greater than ourselves. It is the coming together in celebration of life, love and light that defines the holiday season. If only we could carry that in our hearts every day of the year.
When others celebrate differently based on their beliefs, we are sometimes confused, incensed, or intolerant. The potential of broad, cross cultural, human communion is fractured by blind adherence to imagined borders of belief. It is the challenge of holding ambivalent thoughts in our heads that makes us grip tightly to what we believe and trust: that our faithful following is leading us in the “right” “true” direction. We double down or go “all in” hoping to win the best possible eternity. We desperately want to be right and win the heavenly promise of whatever lies beyond this earthly existence. Unfortunately, when someone wins, someone else usually has to lose and the stakes are too high to bluff on this one. The odds are seemingly increased if we reject others' beliefs while holding rigidly on to our own.
Now more than ever, in this divisive period of our history, we must find a way to come together and shine light on what is most important - love and caring for one another. We are much more alike than we are different and we are all searching for love, acceptance, peace, and joy.
I sincerely wish you the Happiest of Holidays and share with you with the beautiful words of the Dalai Lama in the hopes that each of us will give our gifts to the world and make it a better place.
"Compassion—the natural capacity of the human heart to feel concern for and connection with another being—constitutes a basic aspect of our nature shared by all human beings, as well as being the foundation of our happiness."