Looking for a Christmas Miracle

December 19th, 2011

When I recently bought my first pair of reading glasses, I hoped to quietly slip into middle age without fanfare, but it was not to be. For some reason the check out guy couldn’t scan the glasses and told me to carry them out with the receipt in case anyone questioned me. So on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, serenaded by alarms and accusing stares, I walked out carrying the symbol of my rapidly aging body high above my head for all to see.

In all seriousness, the glasses were long overdue. I’ve been in denial for years. It’s amazing how long pride can prevent you from finding simple solutions to problems. Back home, it was like scales were removed from my eyes. You wouldn’t believe the functions they include on computer keyboards these days. Now that I can actually see them, I’ve discovered that there are single buttons to jump up and down whole pages on a word document.

When you see something so clearly, you inevitably wonder why it took so long to find the solution. It’s the same with so many things in life. Once you see reality clearly, you can’t believe it took you so long to see it. Suddenly everything becomes clear. When you fall in love, find your passion, realize an injustice, see nature’s beauty, it’s like scales fall off your eyes and everything becomes clear.

Look carefully at the image above. What do you see? A tree with a maze of branches? Or a baby curled in a fetal position? I hope you can see the baby even though I’ve cropped the image. Once you see it, you wonder how it took you so long and every time you look at it, you see the baby immediately.

Where do you look for miracles? The Christmas miracle is NOT so much that a baby was born in unusual circumstances 2000 years ago. Every new born baby is a miracle. The miracle is that once you see the world as a place full of possibility, hope turns up even in the most surprising places. Once you see the birth of hope in your own life, you can’t believe it took you so long to find it. It’s EVERYWHERE, inside and out.

There are two ways to think of miracles and Christmas; as if the miracles happened two thousand years ago, or as if the Christmas story points to miracles that happen ALL the time, all around you, if you have the inner clarity of vision to see it.

Think of the Christmas star. The true miracle is not that an unexplained star traveled across the sky to hover above the birthplace of Jesus. The miracle is to look into the night sky today and take in the immensity of the universe and the tiny speck of star dust that we are in the grand scheme of things. When you take in the full grandeur of the universe, the traditional interpretation of the Christmas story as the birth of a savior for a select group of earth’s people falls light a shooting star.

One star, Pollux (Castor’s twin), is 182 trillion miles away from earth, and that’s still in our galaxy. It’s hard to even comprehend that number. If you think of 1 trillion in time, 1 trillion seconds = 32,000 years (30,000 years before the birth of Jesus!) 182 trillion seconds is 5.8 million years. 5.8 million years ago, our ancestors still had opposable big toes and were just starting to walk upright.

So much for Pollux. The largest star yet discovered is Canis Majoris. It is approximately 28800000000000000 miles from earth, if you can get your head around that number. And Canis Majoris is ginormous. You could fit earth inside Canis Majoris so many times it would equate to covering the whole state of Texas with golf balls, 22 inches deep.

I don’t need to go on. You get the point. How does this relate to Christmas?  Once you realize the size of the universe, the scope of evolution and the relative tininess of earth, the idea that the God who created ALL of the universe would have some special plan focused on earth alone becomes a little self indulgent. In relation to the size of the earth, we would be lucky to have God’s third cousin stop by for a visit, let alone the only son of God.

And YET, in the midst of this mostly mysterious universe the fact that an individual like you or me can come to self consciousness is a miracle of the highest order. That you can come to realize that your body is made of the same stuff as Pollux and Canis Majoris is an incredible wonder. That you could discover the presence of peace, hope born within you, God within by any name, is the ultimate Christmas miracle. And it’s not confined to Christians. It’s a miracle of human awakening, tied to the evolution of the cosmos itself, and it’s as close as your own breath.

Are you having trouble seeing this peace and potential within, like the baby in the optical illusion? Stop trying. It’s like looking for your glasses. You can’t see them because you don’t have your glasses on. You can’t find peace as if it’s outside of you. You are looking without the benefit of the very thing that will get you there. It’s as if the glasses are lost on the top of your head. Just tilt your head to the sky, take in the night sky, feel your place in the miracle of it all, let your head lower back to the reality in front of you and peace will fall into place, like glasses falling gently back into position. Let peace unfold effortlessly in your life this Christmas.

In the next piece, I address the so called war on Christmas. Whether it’s the wars that wage within, battles in relationships or between nations, let peace be your guiding vision this Christmas. As Calvin Coolidge said,

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

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  1. Ellen(finding ME) says:

    Your last line says it all….Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind.   When I was young, there was a song by Bing Crosby that we played every Christmas. It was called “The Secret of Christmas “. I loved it and never forgot it…….” It’s not the joy you feel, when snow appears…. it’s not the Christmas cards,  you’ve sent for years… not the joyful sounds, as sleigh bells  ring….or the merry songs the children sing…..The little gift you send…..on Christmas Day…will not bring back a friend,  you’ve turned away….So may I suggest, the secret of Christmas…..Is not the things you do,  at Christmas time…..But the Christmas things you do,  all year through……”

  2. Wonderful post, Ian! I love the vision metaphor.
    I’ll never forget the day, back in high school, when I was at a basketball game. Just out of curiosity I tried on a friend’s glasses. Everything I’d come to believe was normally a bit fuzzy came into sharp focus. Once you see it that way you never settle for fuzzy again. 
    May you and yours enjoy that clarity this Christmas!

  3. Joe Murawski says:

    Very nice…..and I can totally relate to the analogy about the glasses :-)

  4. "annie" says:

    yes. I really like this. Went into a Catholic bookstore the other day, hunting for a little faith gift for someone. Between Celtic benedictions, music like Sanctus, Pie Jesu and all the overwhelming magnificent art pieces with angels-Queen of Heaven and infant, I was thunderstruck at the awe expressed in the arts at the incarnation… Such a sharp contrast to the chestnuts roasting- sleigh bells- Rudolph-here comes Santa Claus-Santa Baby… that dominates the airwaves.

  5. Keith Laidler says:

    Thank you Ian for the ‘sight’ing of Christmas in this perspective.  For nearly 20 years now I’ve struggled with the ‘miracle’ stories considered by my denomination to be required beliefs.  The birth, death, and resurrection holidays came to be dreaded services to plan and sermons to write.  My children and their families are quite deeply committed to the ‘traditions’ and ‘customs’ of Christianity.  I confess to a reluctance, born of fear, to share the evolution of my faith and spiritual life with them.  Are there any ‘glasses’ for people like me who are struggling with ‘double vision?’  Keith (retired pastor) 

  6. ian says:

    hi Keith, they just might surprise you and be far more accepting than you imagine. Either way, you owe it to them to model authenticity. Wear the glasses called “Be YOU to the FULL.”. Other peoples responses are their business.

  7. George Ramsay says:

    Ian. Wonderful thoughts in this post. Makes me miss your thoughts live at c3.
    We do need to remember how giving is always in season.

  8. Keith Laidler says:

    I know you’re right. It’s the very observation I’ve made with couples and families who’ve ‘trusted’ me in counseling sessions.  Those ‘being you..’ glasses correct your vision to 20-20 don’t they?  How costly can they be?

  9. Gayle says:

    According to this book, Ian, if we do the calculations and interpret the findings through the astrology of the day, Jupiter is the Chsitmas Star. Fascinating reading! http://www.amazon.com/Star-Bethlehem-Legacy-Magi/dp/0813527015/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325752350&sr=1-1

  10. Heulwen Renshaw says:

    This is an awakening to something inside of all of us, thank you Ian. 
    Christmas can be a trying time for some people, It was a real revelation (of honesty on her part) hearing a lady in our Church admitting she disliked Christmas! I was speechless, but thinking quietly to myself ‘Lord..she doesn’t really mean it’. Yet knowing full well that she did. But I was so afraid that God would be hurt by it. But I think what she really meant to say was that she disliked the bother, the shopping, the work that she found so difficult to complete, etc.
    You know? I don’t think God would even mind if we didn’t know the stories in the Bible, as long as we ‘believe’ in Him and his son Jesus. There is so much ‘heaviness’ being laid down in sermons, bringing about  ‘fear’ , that it makes me wonder if some preachers realise what they’re saying, instead of declaring a happy theme – which is what should be happening.  ‘Love’ does away with fear, and brings about a lightness to all that we do and feel.  Thanks for all your hard work Ian, bless you.

  11. Israel says:

    Oh my God.. you just inspired me to go forward .. no matter what I’m facing in my life.. !!… God bless you !! 

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