Tonight at around 9pm most stores will close. People will finish all their preparations and begin gathering with friends and relations or simply retire for the evening. Children will go to sleep with visions of Iphones dancing in their heads and there is a collective sigh of relief throughout the land.
Just as I did with the Eclipse, I encourage using this time to enter into contemplative prayer. Do not make a big deal about it, just slip off somewhere for 15 minutes and open yourself to the flow of grace. Relax the mind and be filled with the holy spirit. In this way you achieve Henosis, union with the ultimate reality. Rather than using effort to reach out to God, simply allow God to show himself within you. In this way you complete the circuit and will realize that as Meister Ekhart says: "The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love."
After you are done relaxing into contemplation, perhaps spare just a few more minutes contemplating the Christmas mystery. You do not have to be Christian to do this. I am often amazed at the zeal at which modern Pagans will jump willie nilly into just about ANY religion and lay claim to any mystery, yet feel absolutely forbidden from even thinking about Christian mysteries in the same way.
By the mystery of Christmas I do not mean the overall meaning of Yule, or the birth of the sun at Equinox or anything like that. I mean the mystery that Linus revealed so elequently to Charlie Brown.
Two Thousand Years ago, the gods were exalted as higher beings which rules our world. Most religion of any kind was mostly about making proper sacrifices at proper times so as to feed God or the Gods and not invoke their wrath.
The Christmas mystery is about cutting through that conception of divinity as something so distant from ourselves. In the Christmas story God manifests not just as a human, but starts off life in just about the lowest and meekest possible way: as a baby who has to sleep in an animal trough. The message is that there is no-one that is so low that the divine spark does not dwell within them.
It is a shame that most Christianity focuses more on the fact that Christ was fully God rather than the fact that, as the apostles creed states, Christ was also fully human. It is the fully human part that makes the whole thing useful. As Bisphop Athanaseus put it "God became man, so that man could become God.". The best part about this is all we need to do is allow it to happen. Theosis is the process of making us by Grace what God is by nature. There are no qualifiers for it, no hoops to jump through. Just do it.
This has NOTHING to do with "accepting Christ as your personal lord and savior" or any other such rubbish espoused by fundamentalists. Nor does it have anything to do with being part of the right Chruch as some Catholics and Orthodox would have you believe. It just has to do with openness to ultimate reality.
Throughout his life, Christ never drills people on their beliefs. He simply asked people to love god and their neighbors.
In the Gospel of Luke that Linus quotes in the Charlie Brown special the angel of the lord says:
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL PEOPLE.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, AND ON EARTH PEACE AND GOODWILL TOWARD MAN.
Do not let anyone play the "us and them" game with Christmas. That is NOT what it is about.
So, for those of you that celebrate it: Merry Christmas!
For those that don't, hey its Christmas Day anyway, it may as well be merry!
Peace and Goodwill to you all, so matter what religion or lack thereof.