Christmas Eve feels so magical, doesn’t it? Whether one is religious or not, there’s a palpable feeling in the air of peace, hope, goodwill…. well, comfort and joy! Everyone seems to slow down and be living in the moment. Time stops (or, rather, our experience of it, since “time” doesn’t exist). Pettiness is put on hold. So is selfishness and greed. People seem more connected to the best in themselves and others. And all this in spite of it being the time of year “when Want is keenly felt,” as Dickens so aptly put it. I suspect that even those who find this time of year difficult nevertheless harbor a special glimmer of hope, as the benevolence of their fellow man is contagious. The weary world rejoices.
I’ve always marveled at this phenomenon, and wondered why it is so hard to sustain. It’s similar to the common bond of humanity most of us felt after 9/11. It’s as if the whole world stops and takes account of things – counts blessings – get’s real – separates the wheat from the chaff. It’s a self-awareness, a connection to one’s deeper and more noble feelings, akin to the afterglow from a good therapy session or a work of art (book, music, movie) you really admire. We re-prioritize what’s important, and when you get right down to it, most of what we fret about daily isn’t. When you whittle away the surface nonsense, you’re left with the nuts and bolts of what is really of value: Relationships. Feelings. Connection to self, others and the Universe. A sense of oneness with all that is. Possessions, money, jealousy, power, criticism (of self or others) and greed don’t even come close to making the list. All are innocent and without blame in the warm glow of this benevolent awareness that “all’s right with the world.” It can easily bring a tear to your eye.
As to the matter of why this goodwill is so hard for most of us to hold on to, I think it has at least a little something to do with expectations. We all have unconscious expectations, of ourselves and others, all the time. Do we go around expecting to be treated kindly, welcoming goodwill, and believing the best about ourselves and others? Probably not. But you see, we do on Christmas Eve, and indeed it happens – we create the very situation we expect. This dynamic is already familiar to New Age thinkers, who call it the Law of Attraction – we attract to ourselves whatever we habitually put our focus on. We create our world, just as our creator did. Christ himself explained this in one of my favorite teachings: “according to your belief, so be it unto you.” Self-help guru Dr. Wayne Dyer titled one of his earliest books, “you’ll see it when you believe it.” Believing – expecting – comes first. Most of us get this backwards. You have to behave as if it’s already a done deal. Call it into existence: “Let there be light!”
In our personal interactions, most of us don’t know what motivates others and what fears and insecurities they harbor. Intentions are misinterpreted and misunderstandings are common. But on Christmas Eve, we all seem to cut each other a lot of slack. Wouldn’t it be great if we did this a lot more often? I think that would go a long way toward keeping the Christmas spirit alive. Lets make fewer judgments and assumptions about others. Believe the best. Give that driver who cut you off a break – you’ve no doubt pulled the same move yourself at some point in your journey. Give your loved one or co-worker the benefit of the doubt. And take a risk and tell that person you’ve always secretly admired, for whatever reason, just how you feel about them. You might be surprised at the outcome. In fact, I’m sure of it. And nothing but good will come of it.
Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men……. Let there be hope, and the seed, let it be full with tomorrow.
December 24, 2010