Generosity of Spirit
As I ambled around the net today, I found this week's column by Rabbi Marc Gelman in Newsweek and it seems to me to embody this season of miracle and light.
Secure and serene in his own faith, he has no problem taking joy in another's. I wanted to share his generous, gracious take on Christmas with you ...
"I love that Christmas is a holiday for the celebration of miracles. That is what I love most.
I also love the baby Jesus. I don't love him as my Messiah, but I love him as the Messiah for my Christian friends, and I love their story. I love that, just like God appeared to Moses in a humble bush, the Christian Messiah was born in a humble manger. I love that both his birth and his death—and of course his resurrection for my Christian friends—are the objects of their two greatest holidays. The birth of Jesus is understood as an unmerited gift, a gift of God's grace.
The word I use to describe grace is the Hebrew word hesed. It means the same thing. It means that the beginning of every faith and every spiritual journey is that you are being given a path (Tao), a teaching (dharma) or a law (halacha) that will help lead you to the truth, and this guide or guidepost is not being given to you because you earned it or deserved it. It was given as an act of superabundant love. To get what you need but did not deserve is the meaning of the miracle of Jesus' birth to me.
It is also to me the miracle of other paths up the same mountain to God.
... Birth and death are a miracle in the person of Jesus, who Christians believe is the Christ. I cannot find a resonance for that story in my soul, but I can find a brotherly love for that story, which resonates in different but similar ways, not only in my faith of Judaism but in all the great wisdom traditions of our earth.
I love the bubbly lights and the Christmas trees, and I love Santa and the reindeer (Blitzen is my favorite reindeer because he is just kind of stuck there back in the pack). I love the carols, and I love the cookies, but mostly, my Christian brothers and sisters, I love the fact that you were formed and sustained by a miracle that has changed the world.
I am proud that your story begins in my story as a Jew, and I am proud that you have taken your story into the hearts and souls of one out of every three people on planet Earth. I love that you are happy now, and my joy is joined to yours. ...
And so I offer you my Christmas wish: May we have a voyage apart in the same direction, and may an unseen magnetism connect us and may we make our way to the same port speedily and in our time.
Best Last Words Department:
"Now comes the mystery."
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)