December 15, 2009
The trees do not care what we are celebrating, be it Christmas, or Kwanzaa, or Yule. We care. We argue. We party. Of course the trees notice, in their slow, silent, cellular way the shift of the sunlight on their bodies. They notice the freezing of water, and respond to the thaw when it comes. The rhythm of each year is written, visibly recorded, in the rings of trees and the layers of soil. The do notice individually if we cut them down for firewood, or to clear space for our living. But ultimately they are uninvolved in what drives us to plan and work, to spend and travel, worry and anticipate.
This is perhaps one of the most universal insights of all human religion, that there is always something larger than ourselves in which we move and live. Some people assert they have a special, and thus better, relationship with that larger reality. Some claim their nation is guided by God or that their good fortune is somehow earned or deserved. Likewise some become convinced that the opposite is true, that the whole world has been turned against them, by Dharma or by God. Likewise, some people are certain that the Creator of the Universe expects them to piously honor the birth of Jesus on December 25.
Unitarian Universalists naturally hold humility about these things. We think it is good to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and just as good to enjoy a secular Christmas. And, if you decide to celebrate on some other day, or to celebrate another holiday, or to not celebrate at all, that is good too. If you give gifts to your friends and family on one particular morning, or on another, the trees do not mind. All the trees ask (in their silent, cellular way) and all that we ask, in our verbal and thoughtful way, is that you act justly, love mercy and walk humbly within the web of all living things.
So, though the trees are beyond such sentiment, I hope that you have holidays which awaken you to the wholeness and goodness of life.