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Christmas Eve Candlelight Meditation

Once more the year's turned round.

We've come full circle on this small planet,

Spinning down the grooves of change,

Another revolution completed around the sun.

Another year older ...

Another set of rings on the tree ...

As seasons parade in endless procession

The people's troubles and prayers remain the same:

The worries don't change.

Generation after generation making the same mistakes,

So many thousands of circuits in a world filled with war and woe,

Full of sound and fury,

Bleared, smeared with toil,

The ebb and flow never-ending,

The grating sound of pebbles which the waves draw back

And fling at their return up the high strand,

Begin, and cease, and then again begin

With tremulous cadence slow,

But bringing us always back to Christmas

Back to a place we've always known

Where we've never been before,

Back to a time that stands outside of time:

Not part of the regular orbit, but the axis of the year,

A still point, a fixity, the center post and ridge pole

Around which all the rest revolves.

Christmas: Telling us that history isn't just chasing its tail,

Not merely repeating the same old tired story, over and over

Of dog-eat-dog, might-makes-right, every-man-for-himself, blow


Not a tale told by an idiot,

But assuring us that history has a direction and time has a purpose,

That lines are real, as well as circles

That the human saga has a goal

Still to be realized

Yet mysteriously present, already here among us,

That the Holy is enacting a new story on the earth.

Christmas is not a creed we have to believe in,

It's not a feeling that comes and goes.

Christmas isn't something that happened long ago,

Or didn't happen, as the case may be.

Christmas isn't a story we tell

So much as a drama in which all of us have become participants

Whether we feel like it or not,

Whether we believe in it or not,

Whether we like it or not.

Christmas is a reality, here-and-now

Just as love is a reality

And compassion a possibility hidden inside every interaction

Of how we choose to be with one another.

For whether we feel like or not, we are all brothers,

And whether or not we believe it, we are sisters, born of a single womb.

Whether we like it or not

We are all one tribe and share one fate.

Separateness is the illusion,

While interdependence is the plainest fact.

We know it in our heads

And when we know it in our hearts,

Then the center will be everywhere

And the circumference will have no boundaries

And the sun will rise on a new and different kind of dawn.

We join now in meditation.

In this moment of half light, half shadow,

The glow of candlelight and starlight,

We are able to look out upon the world

Not with the eyes of day

But with another kind of vision,

The illumination of faith, not sight,

A twilight where edges soften,

Harsh outlines begin to gentle

And the colors start to fade:

No more white or black, red or yellow,

But one common race of humankind,

And peace descends on all.

In this half light the familiar becomes strangely unfamiliar.

What we thought we knew seems more wonderful and sacred.

Our lives, the people who share our world, the things we took for granted

Seem more precious, more beloved,

And good will is a presence we begin to sense,

Palpable like a pulse, the heartbeat of a great organism, a world praying in unison

For a kinder earth, a more humane future.

Spirit of Candlelight,

Be with us, we pray

When this night has come and gone.

In the glare of conflagration,

In the harsh combustion of events,

Kindle these friendly lights

To guide us on the path.

About the Author

Gary Kowalski

Gary Kowalski

The Rev. Gary Kowalski is a Unitarian Universalist minister and author of many books, including Revolutionary Spirits, Science and the Search for God, and The Bible According to Noah. He served congregations in Vermont, Washington, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and New Mexico.

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