I awake on the first day of Christmas at dawn. As I open my eyes, I feel a sense of anticipation and wonder. December twenty-fifth has come once again, as it always does, amidst the ordinariness of life. And yet, we celebrate something extraordinary – the Incarnation – “God with us,” literally, “in the flesh.” I bring my heart intentionally into the Presence of God, the God who is always present to us. I bow to this Sacredness and smile. My heart floods with the warmth of love. It’s great to be alive for today is my birthday, a special day when everyone celebrates, a fact that I ponder every year. People always ask me if I get “cheated” on gifts since my birthday is on Christmas. My answer is always the same: Never! It’s a great day to be born! I go into the kitchen and brew a cup of coffee before returning to my favorite gazing chair in front of the Christmas tree. Settling down, I look at the wrapped presents awaiting their destinations. Underneath these ribbons and containers are gifts that I have carefully chosen for the loved ones who will soon be elated, I hope, to receive something from me. Gift-giving can be a bit dicey sometimes but is such an important part of life. I think about writing each person’s name on a list from year to year and how I try to give each one something that will communicate “I know you, I see who you are, what you like, what will touch your heart.” More than just something material, I ponder the symbol beneath the outer appearances – relationships forged through family, extensions of friendship, people who have intersected my life so unexpectedly and blessedly. Allowing memories to arise and feeling wrapped in the arms of gratitude, I realize that the true gift is our presence to each other through births and deaths, sharing joys and sorrows, plenitude and scarcity. Today I will both give and receive and even though I feel more comfortable giving, I will wait with gracious and open hands to receive. I make a personal vow to stay in the present moment today as I breathe in and out the Presence that is the source of all this love. I make a promise to be present to everyone I encounter today. I will look into their eyes when they speak. I will listen intently to what they are saying. I will try to show them with my words and actions that they have been heard, seen, appreciated and loved. . .the true meaning of Incarnation.
Holy Presence, I bow down before your stillness inside my inner sanctuary and am grateful to have been gifted with knowing and finding you in unexpected, Bethlehem places. Please help me to enter the present moment, to live this day as if it were my last, and to embrace with love whatever unfolds. On this first day of Christmas, may I celebrate with unbridled joy, the gift of my life in and with you.