This sacred season is meant to tenderize the heart.
Generosity of heart and Christmas, at their best, are meant to flow into a lovely circle of giving and receiving. My spiritual teacher, White Eagle, says the giving of specially chosen gifts express our kindliness and the Christmas spirit that quietly pervades this season of illumination. Surely, one of the greatest bringers of the gift of joy into our lives is our animal companions, and animals generally, which among them certainly includes the hungry birds we feed in our gardens and the many wonderful dogs we visit with as our neighbors pass by on their daily walkabouts.
Tess and our dog-whispering neighbor, Mike. Photograph by Joni Quarnstrom
In their trust and innocence, animals so effortlessly help us to release our inhibitive fears and open our hearts in such a wide way that we are able to move ever closer to our own expression of Divine Love. Even the hardest of hearts often becomes the responsive, loving heart in the presence of an animal! A therapy dog visiting people at an assisted living facility lights the entire dwelling! God has truly given us the splendid gift to approach Him/Her through His/Her creatures. As one with a gentle heart and soul, St. Francis of Assisi exemplifies this potential union of people with the animal kingdom. His was an example of unconditional peace and Love—the underlying principle in a feedback loop that brings absolute trust, wholeness, and perfection.
As a family-oriented festival, Christmas (or the Christ-Mass in the Ancient Wisdom tradition) reminds us of the baby Jesus born amidst the circle of animals in a simple, humble place of purity and goodwill. All who gathered and kneeled there to honor the promised return of the Son of God demonstrate how we are each an individual but necessary part of a Collective Soul, each inseparable one playing a vital role of caring and sharing, accepting and forgiving, sending forth and receiving in return. One tender heart reaching to help another, whether silently in a prayer, a blessing for another, or in some small act of service, like raking the neighbor’s leaves while he is recovering from knee surgery.
Thomas Merton wrote that “only when we see ourselves in our true human context” will we know ourselves as the “one organism and one body” we are destined to be. And this “one body” transcends our earthly life so that the richness of Christmas can be a reunion and communion with our animal and human families on both sides of the veil—the outer and inner worlds of life.
While the blessing of the newly born Sun fills and restores us during these final days of a memorable 2010, it too heralds the opening of a fresh year of opportunities before us. What if we infused every day with the sweetness and thoughtfulness of Christmas? When we let go and forget our egoic self, what smile, hope, encouragement, or gift might you or I offer to someone in need today? How can I extend a helping hand or best serve in this situation? If the Earth, animals, and each person are in fact in our care, yours and mine, as all the Master Teachers of all ages have assured us that they are, then what can I do this moment to make a difference? What Light may I cast to lift a burden? Where can I shine my Light?
Text © by Zane Maser, 2010. Photos © by Chris and Zane Maser, 2010. All rights reserved worldwide.
My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.
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