The Spirit of Christmas
Light comes down like drops of oil along the golden thread
My head a golden pan, the cymbal rings a bell’s song
Cold outside, warm inside
Holly Red and Forest Green
We delight in hanging ornaments on fragrant and lit branches
Then, sit on the couch
Side by side
Fire crackling smoky warmth
Our cups are filled with cheer and joy
Hand over hand
Gratitude touching gratitude
Like stones stacked in the cathedral wall
The stained-glass windows lit from within
Depict the story of Christ
We come together now
In the Spirit of Christmas
It’s Christmas Eve and It’s below freezing in West Virginia. Ashley (my wife) and I have traveled to visit my mom at the Old Trail Farm, the place where she now lives and where my father spent much of his childhood. “The Farm” as we call it, is an idyllic 200 acres of rolling West Virginia hills with a swim-in-able pond and large pastures bordered by deciduous forests. In the stream that runs through the property, I used to catch crawdads with my cousins when we were kids.
The stream is frozen now and our activities center mostly around the fireplace in the living room where we keep warm by burning big logs from morning until night. We’ve been wrapping packages and putting them under the tree for most of the afternoon. It looks like Santa Clause has come a day early.
At 5:45 PM, fifteen minutes before the start of the Christmas Eve Family Seminar, we bundle into our car and drive to John Holloway’s house who lives on the way into town (Wheeling). John is our family doctor. He grew up with my dad and took care of my grandmother in the final years of her life. He is a great contributor to the Wheeling community. John is also my mom’s boyfriend and I couldn’t be more glad about that.
We arrive at John’s house, Howgate. It’s where John’s grandmother lived when he was growing up. One of his boys and many cousins and siblings are in the house for Christmas Eve Dinner. We arrive into the steamy, smells good kitchen that’s filled with people and John’s two St. Bernards. I pull out my laptop in the kitchen and get the wireless internet up and running, then we continue through the house to our selected seminar viewing point, an empty and quiet room that’s been prepared for our use.
We sit on the couch, wrap in blankets, set the laptop on an ottoman, and participate in the magic that is MSIA Live Streaming. It’s like we’re right there in the room but instead, we’re in West Virginia, bundled up on a couch.
We’re right there to call in the Light together and chant the Ani-Hu.
We’re right there with our family and friends, appreciating everyone’s colorful Christmas outfits.
We’re right there with John Morton. With the Mystical Traveler. With the Christ.
I have a simultaneous experience of the inner and the outer seminar. I’m watching the Traveler. I’m hearing the Traveler. I’m with the Traveler. Time flies. The seminar ends and I do some EEEEs and then pack up my laptop so that we can hustle off to St. Matthews, a Catholic Church where we’ll attend Christmas Eve Mass with the Holloways.
The choir at the church opens with O’ Come All Ye Faithful and the congregation sings along. Tears run down my cheeks as we sing our adoration of Christ the Lord, Born the King of Angels.
I am moved to tears several more times during the service. Having come directly from the seminar, I experience the words of the pastor dipping into the same Universal truths that we practice in MSIA. Peace. Kindness. Loving.
The pastor talks about the Birth of the Christ, a gift to all humans and I experience the blessing of knowing that I am a Child of God, the blessing of knowing that we are all Children of God. The congregation celebrates the birth of the Christ in all of us. The Spirit of Christmas is with us.
After Mass, we say our goodbyes and drive back to the Old Trail Farm. We make our final, Santa Clause preparations: stuffing stockings, organizing gifts under the tree for maximum aesthetic appeal, putting out a plate of cookies by the fireplace.
Snow starts to fall outside, covering the fields in white. It is quiet. I drift off to sleep, cherishing the gift of Christ in my heart and anticipating a white Christmas.
VIEW THE PHOTOS FROM MSIA’S CHRISTMAS EVE SEMINAR