Tag Archives: Christmas

Hope in a Weary World

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. And this year it’s not about the bustle of the Holidays and Christmas shopping, if anything those activities were a welcome distraction.

After a year of  extreme politics and further division within the USA, rising deficit and threats against health insurance,  I for one am just tired.

As I look back to the events that have led to where we are, I remember the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.  I remember videos of terrorist attrocities in the Middle East.  I remember US cabinet members laughing and clapping when a Middle Eastern leader was killed, and most of all I remember angry people arguing politics, myself among them.

It occurred to me that we are a Nation and a World that is constantly dealing with both primary and secondary traumatic stress.  And we are dealing with these stresses not only as individuals, but as communities, as nations, and as a world community of human beings.

There is a phrase from old Western movies that applies to how communities deal with traumatic stress: “circling the wagons.”  We form groups of like minded people with the intent of protecting ourselves and our families.

Both ancient and modern history are filled with examples of communities experiencing extreme stress and trauma, pulling together, rallying around a common identity, be it ethnic or religious or nationalistic, becoming powerful, and in turn becoming the source of stress and trauma towards neighboring communities.  Eventually, someone stronger always comes along and the cycle begins again.  Trauma, circle the wagons, gain power, cause trauma, and then experience oppression and trauma all over again.

At Christmas time, the world celebrates the birth of a man called Jesus.  I say the world because at this point in human history, with few exceptions, everyone is pretty much aware of everything, including the origins of the Christian religion and culture.  I say the man Jesus because the humanity of Jesus is something we all have in common.  Jewish people may view Jesus as a historical Rabbi, Buddhists and Hindus may view Jesus as an Enlightened Being, Muslims may view Jesus as a revered Prophet, and Christians view Jesus as both Human and Divine.

Enlightened, Prophet, Human, Divine, Personal Savior, or anointed Christ, however we view Jesus, the words and teachings attributed to this person are what is left for us in the 21st century to read, share, interpret, and draw inspiration from.

2000 years ago, Jesus’ words and teachings inspired a group of people, human beings, to become  followers.  These human followers of Jesus the Christ also experienced extreme trauma, at the hands of a government, specifically the Roman government who had power at the time.  And like human communities have done since the beginning of time, the followers of Jesus the Christ reacted by circling the wagons.   They focusing on mutual care of each other, they comforted families who lost loved ones to the Roman Government’s systematic oppression, they cared for each other, and they talked about ways to deal with the stress of living in the traumatic world they lived in.

They also turned to the teachings of Jesus the Christ whom they followed for guidance.  And in those teachings, they learned of the repeated history of violence, conquering, and being conquered.  And they saw the alternative message that Jesus taught: demonstrate our love of God through loving each other, loving neighbors, and even loving the oppressive enemies.

So, instead of gathering weapons and power, these followers of Jesus the Christ offered love and help to their Roman neighbors.  They bound wounds, offered medicine and a kind presence to people who were sick, they loved their neighbors, they loved their enemies, and they prayed and worshiped together, reminding each other that though the path they chose did not make sense in a world of “fight power with power,” this was the path that Jesus of Nazareth lived and taught.

The world is still a dark place, people are still circling wagons and gathering resources to hide or fight.  But Christmas is a reminder, a still small voice, a voice so small it is symbolized in  the presence of an infant child, calling us to a path of Grace.  A small voice reminding us that peace is possible, we don’t need to react with anger and violence, we can choose to be loving and caring instead, even with those we perceive as enemies.

It is my fervent wish this year that even in the midst of darkness and conflict, even with memories of trauma and fear either fresh or distant in our minds, experienced first hand or vicariously through social and broadcast media, we think of this infant, this prophet, this enlightened one, this Jesus who is called Christ, and remind ourselves that even as we circle our wagons, we can choose to share peace and kindness with others, even others we don’t know or feel suspicious about.

I’m going to follow this thought with a challenge.  For those who are able, if you find yourself sitting in a drive through window waiting for coffee or a meal, consider buying the coffee or meal for the car in line behind you.  It’s a way of sharing that does not judge, and does not expect a reward or even a thank you.  Catch the Spirit of Christmas, offer up a gift of kindness.  The family in the car behind you may be Jewish, Christian, may be Muslim, may be Buddhist or Hindu.  They may be black, they may be white, they may be Hispanic or Asian, they may be Gay or Straight.  They may be living in poverty or blessed with great wealth. They may be politically conservative or liberal; they may be a member of the law enforcement community or they may be struggling with legal issues.  No matter what their race, culture, or circumstance, they are human, and they are loved, even as we are loved.  Share the Love.

May All People experience a Merry Christmas, a Blessed Holiday, and a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.

A Christmas Meditation Gift

advent-wreath-1879730_640Another holiday season is upon us in the United States and worldwide.  For Christians, this season celebrates the birth of Jesus, whom we know as Emmanuel, “God with us.”

If we were to imagine for a second that Jesus was born at the year 0 CE (historians differ as to the actual year of Jesus’ birth), He would have been celebrating His 16th birthday 2000 years ago.  Imagine that, Jesus as a young person, with all the hopes and dreams, the fears and insecurities, the hormones and emotions associated with a 16 year old maturing human being.

Prior to that he was a child, full of curiosity and questions, and prior to that a toddler brimming nativity-scene-1807599_640with energy.  And prior to that, like any human child, Jesus was completely dependent on His parents for sustenance, nurture, love, and protection.  Jesus was born in an area of the world that was perhaps as unstable and dangerous at the time of His birth as it is today.  He was born homeless besides.

But the story of the birth of Jesus is not only about vulnerability.  Nor is the birth of any child only about weakness and vulnerability.  A newborn child has a mind that is not limited by learned rules and desires.  The heart of a newborn child is not scarred with resentments and disappointments. And the core of a newly born child is not burdened with learned fears and responsibilities.  A newborn child represents earth%20sunrise2pure, unfettered potential for a free and joyful life, filled with unconditional love and meaningful accomplishment.

And this is my prayer for this Season, that we may all take a lesson from the newborn child, and make an effort to lay down our desires, resentments, and fears so that we may see, feel, and experience the world in new joyful, hopeful, loving, and faithful ways.

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With this in mind, consider sharing the gift of Meditation for Christmas.  The Christian Tantric Meditation practice helps people to let go of desires, resentments and burdens, and realize our potential as joyful, loving, and confident human beings.

The Christian Tantric Meditation Guide book is available through Amazon at http://sunrisemeditation.org/publications/, and our next Christian Tantric meditation classes will be conducted in February of 2017.  The series of four  classes will be held on Saturdays February 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th.  In addition to the core practice classes, we will also be offering classes oriented towards addiction recovery, and advanced classes in compassion for people who have already taken the first four classes.

These classes are useful for beginners and people who are experienced in meditation alike.  Our pricing will be 25.00 per individual class, or 80.00 if all four classes are signed up for in advance.

For more information, either call us at 678-358-8775, email us at dave@sunrisemeditation.org, or register at http://sunrisemeditation.org/contact-us/  on our website.

Whatever your tradition, religion, and culture, we wish you a joyful holiday season, filled with hope, love, and peace.

Experiencing Jesus at Christmas

lamp_trimmed_1 As we approach Christmas, Christians anticipate the coming of Jesus in the intimate form of a baby, innocent and vulnerable. While the familiar Christmas story stands in stark contrast to the hype and commercialism that accompanies the season, for many of us, the commercial façade eventually fades and a real encounter takes place.

With regard to encountering Jesus during meditation, the book “Christian Tantric Meditation Guide” says:

“As we relax, we picture Jesus in our minds. Our friend, our teacher, and our comforter, Jesus is the One who loves us unconditionally. Jesus may appear in robes, He may appear sitting in front of us or next to us, He may appear very close, comforting and embracing us. Jesus may appear as we have seen in pictures or artistic renditions, or Jesus may appear in a different form. Jesus may even appear in female form, if we need Jesus to. Some of us have been deeply hurt by men in our lives. Jesus understands, and Jesus will come to us in any form we need in order to share God’s unconditional love.”

Recently, while practicing Christian Tantric Meditation, the vision I experienced was Jesus as a homeless person.  Recently while visiting San Francisco, I encountered fully bearded homeless men with nut brown tans laying in the grass in parks. This was the Jesus I experienced during meditation.  Some time later, I was working with a group of men in recovery when the meditation encounter resurfaced in my memory. I smiled to myself as I recognized that Jesus was among this group, reaching out to me and speaking to me, even as I worked with them.

On another occasion, while meditating I heard the voices of my family in the kitchen. Usually distractions don’t connect with my consciousness while meditating, but I heard these voices while I was practicing Divine Communion, visualizing Jesus. When I heard their voices, I recognized Jesus, reaching through them to connect with me in a warm and familiar way.

On yet another occasion, I experienced Jesus in a comforting embrace. The experience was intimate and much needed at the time, and I found my eyes tearing up in spontaneous reaction to the encounter.

Of course, meditation is one of many ways to encounter Jesus. It seems that every year, the Spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of Christ, eventually becomes a part of us. Some of us encounter the Spirit while writing cards and remembering friends and loved ones who are living away from us, some at church as the candles of Advent are lit, and for some the Spirit arrives with a glimpse of a child on a Mall Santa’s lap, eyes bright with hope and anticipation.

Whatever the reason or the situation, whether through quiet contemplation, joyful encounters with friends and family, or even in sharing a moment with a stranger, if we open ourselves to the encounter, the Spirit will come.

And this is my prayer for this Season, that we may all encounter the Prince of Peace, in whatever form that touches our hearts. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, Come.

Christmas Blessings from Ecumenical Christian Wellness Ministries.