‘Changing Times’ Column 2006 – 2007

Christmas is a time for spending. Expressions of duty and love, safe from vulnerability.

Some celebrate Jesus’ birth. Jesus was born in July. Winter Solstice falls around 25 December, as Christian Churches fall atop old Pagan sites built on natural lei lines and sacred sites.

The three wise men followed the star of David – do we know the name of that planet? – away in above the manger? Apparently there were four astrologers from the four corners of the earth. One got lost – how embarrassing. Or were they kings and he conquered the kingdoms of the three star-chasers?

Whatever the facts, Christmas is a time for opportunity, just as Diana’s death provided opportunity for mass expression of suppressed grief.

For some, it’s an opportunity for truce from family feuds and dramas, if only for a few days.

For others, an opportunity for reunion, hometowns, familiar faces, things that seldom change.

No matter who we are in ‘our reinvented world’, it doesn’t take long before old roles and reactions set in. Family dynamics, sibling rivalry, Oedipus, Electra, woes, wounds and unfinished business. Best turn the television up, gorge emotions down, drink to lucid loving and goggle-eyed acceptance.

Are those without families the lucky ones, keeping the parties going without a break? Without a home to go to, no matter how dysfunctional? The grass is always greener and there’s always a story from the other side.

I heard, from a St Mungo’s Volunteer, about a homeless lady with frostbite on her hands and feet living under a bridge, who refused to come in from the cold, away from her community. Belonging.

I worked with Mother Teresa in her Home For The Dying one Christmas. Unbearably hot Calcutta. I have never been so useful in all my life. I did it for me. I really got to know myself.

Christmas is an opportunity for volunteering. Charity can begin at home, with local charities and neighbours.

Christmas can be a time for forgiveness, acceptance, awareness, change, love, expression, midnight Mass with Mum and all, followed by home made mince pies and Baileys as we open presents and secretly remember the refugee year, with father smuggled to Italy and our first painfully cold British season, with little to be jolly about.

Whichever opportunities cross your path, I wish you the ability to respond with an open heart, a calm mind and the freedom of spirit to truly share your presence.

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