Everyone is heading somewhere for Christmas. There is definitely something afoot which is moving us to clear our larders and cupboards, polish the polishable, make lists of people to give presents to, plan the journeys to the shops, to the pantomine, to Legoland or the office Christmas party. Some people are packing salopettes and ski boots, some are packing bikinis and shorts and taking off for hotter climes and some people are not. Some people have stepped aside from the movement, some by choice and some because they don't have the choice. Perhaps you are somewhere between the choosers and the not choosers. Spending time with one of my favourite not choosers who can't now choose to go out is a blessed way of stepping aside for just enough time to recharge and rethink my Christmas planning. Stepping aside in this way is like stepping out into the fresh air and feeling the beauty which can easily be missed when you are head down, collecting the crackers and stuffing the turkey.
Our morning starts early, we, he, Mary and I meditate as dawn breaks and then catch up on his current reading from St Luke. No easy Christianity here, this is tough stuff: Woe, says our Christ about to be reborn in just under a week, Woe, he says to the Pharisees and lawyers and all hypocrites everywhere. This is not comfortable stuff because lost in the sentimental side of Christmas and the Victorian trees and baubles, we forget and forget and forget that Christmas celebrates the arrival of a radical thinker and teacher who offered Himself to help us be free from the illusion that our lives were our own and were all there was and would never end. It is a good time to examine the inner hypocrite lurking in our own set up!
After this visit I am left thinking how it may be possible to give the best Christmas present, not just the lego and the Christmas paper and the turkey and stuffing, but just a little touch of the patient invitation to choose to practice being still amongst it all. One day it will probably be forced upon us and we should learn to know how to handle it. My old friend, who is a real lover of life is now slowed down to chair and bed but he has practiced meditation over years, has studied the map of reality and not only manages to find space to be still but gives me, who sits alongside one morning each week, the best Christmas present there is. The real Christmas present is Wisdom. If I could give a present, it would be to help make stillness as lovely as Legoland will be today. Not easy I think