Several years ago Carl Seaburg collected readings, poems and reflections about this holiday season from countless people. He then edited them and published them in a volume called Celebrating Christmas. It is a rich resource.
One of those items is by Edward Erickson and, in part, goes: “We stand with eyes toward the east, awaiting the rising of the star, and pray that love shall become flesh and dwell among us; and that compassion shall be born in human hearts. We celebrate the discovery of fact in the garment of legend.”
That last phrase, “the discovery of fact in the garment of legend,” is a rich statement. We live our lives in and through legend. People tell us things and we believe them. We live inside of their legends. We then spend the rest of our lives discerning what parts of those legends contain truth for us. And the parts that do not, we let go of.
We are people who tend not to believe in virgin births, and many other institutionalisms. But wait ……. do we need to throw out the story? In my opinion, no. Why? Because all stories contain some truth and it is a matter of finding it. What did those ancient writers want to say when they complied what we know as the Nativity story? One thing is for sure. They were not writing a documentary! They were borrowing from and creating mythology. To express what? That our history does not own us. From humble beginnings, beings arise to fulfill (or not) the potential that lies inside of them.
I am grateful for this community because it is a place where we can find friends to help us with our discerning process. Since our truth shines through the garments of our legends, we can determine which legends we wish to carry forward and which not. One of the reasons why this holiday period is a time of celebration is because we do not condemn ourselves for being who we were but raise a glass to the process of becoming who we will be.
May this season be one of celebration, happiness and discernment in your process. And may the new year hold many discoveries for you!
– Rev. Ed