by José Arregi (English translation by Rebel Girl)
December 24, 2013
Friends, in the clarity of your days or the middle of your night, listen again to the voice of the Christmas angel: "Fear not. I proclaim to you a great joy." And the simplest sign is enough: "A child is born to you." When are children not born in spite of general hardship? In the manger where I live, in Arroa Behea, two children were born this year: Marena on the second and Josu on the fourth. And how they smile! How Izaro who is only six weeks old smiles too, placid as an island, bright as a star!
Every birth is a sign, a huge miracle, a beautiful promise, a deep call. Living is a miracle. Just existing is already a miracle. And the greatest miracle is the tenderness that cares, nurtures, and counsels. That is "God", and it doesn't matter whether you give Him a name or not. He Is What He Is. And it's very different from what we insinuate when we say "There is what there is." No. What He Is is infinitely more and better than what there is. So the angel proclaimed to some poor shepherds in Bethlehem out in the open air in the middle of the night: "Fear not. A child has been born to you. His name is Jesus -- 'God saves'. He is Emmanuel -- 'God with us'."
It is Christian metaphorical language, you would say. Yes, and it deserves huge esteem, deep consideration, if only for having inspired so many beautiful poems and melodies, having comforted the many sorrows of poor people, for having encouraged so much kindness and so much just struggle despite all the failures. I don't want to dispense with the language of angels and shepherds, glorias and mangers. I don't want to do without Jesus, the human flesh of God, the Mystery of the world.
But I don't want to lock Jesus in exclusivist denominational thinking, as if he were the only incarnation of God. Nor do I want to define God according to a dualistic schema, as if He were an Entity or a Somebody. He is much more, He is the Infinite Mystery. When the Christian confesses that God became flesh in Jesus, he is basically confessing the same thing all believers of all traditions and non-believing poets of all time have expressed -- that whatever is is inhabited by the unspeakable Infinite, Beauty that enraptures, embracing Kindness, and that we can always trust despite everything, and recreate the world every day as we remake the Nativity scene each year.
I don't know if you put up a Nativity scene in your home -- the angel, the grotto, the shepherds, the ox and ass, and Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. It's all so endearing! Put it your way. Put kindness and tenderness. Life is hard, the year has been difficult, and the future...who knows about the future? But fear not. Take care of your life, care for your soul, care for your own, care for all beings.
And look at it all with new eyes. Everything is miracle and promise of Presence. Nothing is what it seems. Everything is constantly being and being reborn in Another Reality, towards a Different Reality present and possible. Celebrate the Birth of life in your home. Look with the eyes of a child. The eyes of a child are enough to light up all the darkness in the world, in Lampedusa and Melilla, in Africa and in neglected Latin America.
And all beings. All beings proclaim the same thing as the good and cheerful angel of Bethlehem: "Fear not, blessed creature. You come from Beauty, you come from Goodness. You are more precious than all the precious stones, much more than all the gold, incense and myrrh. Believe in your blessing, blessed creature. Be a blessing, bring blessing in your small wounded hands, in your little beating heart."
Look, the gorse, the primroses and Joseph's flowers are already blooming in the heart of winter, gladdening the bare mountain and shady paths. See it? See each being as a humble sign of that "Goodness which is the source of all things and that some day will be wholly in all beings," as says the biographer who looked at all things, Francis of Assisi, inventor of the Nativity.
If you look in that way, you will be born again and a different world will be born. Merry Christmas!