|Snow on Spanish Moss at Casa Chiara|
My life's elder, Mother Ann the Mistress of Novices, used to tell us that the Days of Christmas lasted until February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem. The twelve days of Christmas end on January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany, the "showing" or "manifestation."
We see and we receive when we are poor in spirit. Meister Eckhart reminds us in his Christmas sermons that it means nothing that Christ was once born in history if he is not born now in our hearts. And to receive such a Divine Gift, the heart must be poor, empty, open and accepting.
It can take a lifetime for the human heart to let go enough to receive the Gift of Christmas. This very day a woman told me she no longer observes Christmas because she's just too tired of creating festivities and giving gifts that no one appreciates. (not what they wanted, not expensive enough, not stylish enough). So she's given up on it altogether. She's very close now to being empty, perhaps, and her disappointment and resentment could crack open at any moment to let a New Light of reconciliation enter through a yet unexplored openness in her own heart. The Gift, after all, is not a new smartphone--it is Divine Love passing through us, one to the other, unconditionally.
I can't stop looking at the photo I took the other day, the day it snowed. It's only an oak branch covered with moss, covered with snow. But look how it shines! Look at those little droplets of gold! What are they? Do you see the stars in the snow? The light in the flakes? The flakes themselves still falling in front and onto those already balanced on the oak limbs? I can't stop looking. I can't stop opening to the beauty of it, the promise.