Sacred Time

My best hopes to all my friends, students, and readers on this Christmas Eve.
I trust the season has found you discovering joy, practicing happiness, and diligent in your training. As the solstice illuminates for us, it is often during the darkest periods that in-light-ment begins its movement towards us in our lives. Yet, I know this season, this holiday is full of hype, of overt materialism, of crowds, and many ugly things and often ugly people.

It is yet a holy time of days. This is possible because that which is holy about it transcends that which is not to such a degree that nothing can erase its sacredness. It is only a matter of opening your eyes to it. Even when you find yourself in the midst of the lesser way. It is an opportunity to realize a little deeper the sacredness of all the time in our lives. It is sacramental in that sense.

Its not about sales, or commercials, or silly movies, or even being an adherent of one faith or wisdom tradition or another.

We don’t have to believe that Mary was a virgin, or Jesus was born in Bethlehem, or that magi made a visitation. We don’t have to believe in any of those tales to still celebrate the reality that such a remarkable man was born. A man whose enlightened life and teachings are so full of divine light…what ever that might be or originate from…Teachings that do convey a deeper truth that can be born this time of year. Of kindness, and giving, of gratitude, of consideration for others…of being truly noble in your thoughts, deeds, words. Forgive me but I feel this is really what such a time is about, rather than adhering to dogmas or propositions .

You and I still can be enchanted by the ancient recognition of the solstice. Even if scientifically explained it is none the less powerful in its ancient meaning.

There are deeper reasons for celebrating and for recognizing and for participating in this time than the shallow surface which is all that reach most. Even in churches, with exceptions now and then, few realize what they are invoking…lost in literalizing stories and rituals as they are. Some people find that in drumming up the solstice sun on snowy icy rock that they feel a deeper vibration this time of year and seek to respond to it in harmony with the rhythms of the earth, even if their own lives are not lived in harmony. Others light candles, give gifts, sign carols or chants, still themselves in meditation to sense what really matters. At some level for such people there can be enough of awakening to realize there is something going on; That there is a participation in something more ancient than what is happening today, or two thousand years ago, or even many millennia.

This sacred time for myself is about preparing for the sacred, and receiving it. This is why I like to have things clean, done, and welcoming. This is why I yearn to move with a high clear pounding heart in cool air preparing spirit and body. Of being kind to strangers, even if they are jerks or oblivious; of living in a holy way that perhaps might stay with me a little longer and deeper each year. I encourage each of you towards the same. Enjoy as much of this time in sweat, and stillness, and away from sofa and sweets and computers and the television.

Remember this, live these days with a deeper practice than how much food you can eat or how many gifts you can acquire or how much you can get by with being a slouch. Give the real gifts of forgiveness, kindness, help, understanding, patience, encouragement, gratitude. Be generous in each of these. Give yourself the gift of sacred sweat, of time for stillness, of discipline that is liberating and empowering rather than indulging in moodiness, sour attitudes, holiday hype and more calories than a ultra athlete could use.

Open your eyes, open your ears, open your heart.

Sensei Sheader