As I write this I recognize the importance of this date, December 21, 2012. For some time now this date is all we have heard about; the Mayan calendar and the end of the world. Even though there are many times in a year that someone calls for the end of the world, this date seemed to resonate. I think part of the reason this particular date stuck with people is that it corresponds to the equinox the day of the year for me in the USA to experience the shortest day of sunlight and the official start of Winter. What do those events have to do with anything? Our shared and collective histories. Humans, for as far back as we can find, looked to the natural world with awe and amazement. Those aspects of nature we did not understand we tried to reason with explanations, many of which later became myths we still tell ourselves or celebrations to which we still, to some degree, cling. So, when we are told that the world may end on a day significant to our collective past, we tended to blend our shared history and myth with our current scientific knowledge. If you wish to know more about what I am referring to, look up the concept of the collective unconscious by Karl Jung, or the writings of Joseph Campbell.
What does all of this have to do with me, or even Christmas? Lots. I would tend to think that many of us, even though we entertained a slight feeling of foreboding today as we were not too sure what would happen, most of us knew deep down that nothing would happen. But what if it were true? What if we actually did know, scientifically, that the end was today. What would you have done to prepare? Not in a modern-day “prepper”sense, but what would you have done socially, psychologically, spiritually to prepare? What changes would you have made? Unfortunately, since we all “knew” nothing would happen most of us never asked ourselves those questions. But why not? Even though we know the end is most likely not now, what prevents us from socially (in our families), psychologically and spiritually reflecting upon and making the changes in our lives as if the end were nigh? I only imagine how much more at peace and joy our society would be if we all were acting as if the Mayans were correct (using that phrase for analogy purposes only. I recognize that the Mayans never said the world would end. That is our modern construct placed upon them).
For Christians, Christmas, the birth of Jesus, our God dwelling among us in humility, is a joyous time! Even the secular world gets into this celebration (as stated above this is true given our collective histories). But what does this season mean to us? What do we do different now in celebration that we don’t do the rest of the year? Why not? Why do we make changes in our lives for a season but not in permanence?
I know I have posed many questions, but I feel this day is a perfect day for us to pause, quiet ourselves and take inventory:
- What aspects of me do I need to keep and grow?
- What aspects of me do I need to change and improve upon?
- How do I want to be different?
I encourage all of us to challenge ourselves to become more fully ready for the coming of Jesus as we celebrate His birth. Begin now to make the changes you would like to see. I know we all can do it, because I am sure that if we knew today was the end we would have made the changes, and made them quickly!