A Christmas Morning Wish for Everyone

I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas. This piece of mine was originally posted on Christmas Day, 2007 on another site. 

A Christmas wish for everyone today…

This has been a challenging year for me in a lot of ways, yet I find myself feeling even more than the usual holiday spirit right now as I sit at the keyboard, waiting for Santa to come down my chimney. Wait! I don’t have a chimney! Oh well, I still believe! Well, the part about Santa, who can say? The rest of it, I’m still pretty big on all the good stuff that we think about when the holidays roll around each year. No doubt a lot of you feel the same.

I’m real grateful for friends and family this year. I take a lot of that for granted a lot of the time, but right now I absolutely “get it”… Some of you know some of the background as i make that statement. It’s all about community, being “plugged in” or connected. It’s not a happy, festive time if you’re in this life all on your own. I do know some folks who are in that kind of a situation now, and it’s not a good thing. They’re not feeling particularly joyful right now, as you might imagine.

The Christmas story does hold a lot of meaning for me. I’m not quite sure if I still believe all of it, all the nuances and consequences and so on; not quite like one “believes it” when the assembled faithful say the Apostles Creed together at Midnight Mass. Some will be doing exactly that in just a few hours, perhaps some of you.

Yet it doesn’t seem at all “funny” to me that God comes to us whenever it suits his/her purpose. Not entirely sure if “he” did in that particular, historical way. Being raised in a Christian family and having gone part-way through seminary a few years ago, I do lean in that direction. But I’ve come to see some things in a different light now that I’ve spent a little better than a half-century on this planet. This planet where almost a billion people believe that God became incarnate, was born of a young woman who had never “known” her betrothed. And that his coming among us in that way was the beginning of a Divine plan to make it possible for all of his creatures to enjoy unending fellowship with him and with one another! In this life and in the next! Now that’s a story! One we humans have been telling one another for a very long time, and I’m quite sure we’ll be telling it for a long time to come!

I’ve been struggling for so many years now about exactly how much of the story still “works” for me and all of that. But what I’ve never doubted is that God, or the Divine, does come to us and among us all the time. And I’m finally in that phase of life where I’ve learned to look for it, to expect it and to embrace it. And I know that the other really big thing about Christmastime is to get a bit closer to my brothers and sisters who also bear the image of the Divine One in their souls and on their beaming faces. Some of them were raised on the same stories I was; this one about God being born of a virgin, and many others.

Some, of course, have heard and embraced and celebrated different stories. I’m not very inclined to quibble about the particulars at this point in my life. I’m quite sure that God would love to see us move a little closer together at this time of year, and to go on telling those stories; especially that one about God robed in human flesh, living and dying as one of us. And I’m quite sure that the heart of the Divine is pleased when we carry forward “his” mission to strip away that illusion that our sins, imperfections, and much less, our differences, should separate us from one another or from his Divine Heart.

Well, Christmas Eve has progressed, as it will, into Christmas morning as I’m wrapping up this little holiday message. And I’m sitting here, luminous and expectant, like a six year old waiting for Santa to appear. Like Simeon in the temple, waiting to bless the infant Jesus, knowing then that he has seen and embraced, quite literally, the Divine plan to end our sinful and deadly illusions of separateness. I’m expectant, waiting in earnest to see and to embrace the next manifestation of the Divine. In you, in her, in us. Perhaps–and wouldn’t this be a great story–perhaps in and across many countries and cultures, in four billion human hearts at once!

A wish, a dream, a fervent hope… Perhaps that’s all it is. But a hope to hold close to one’s heart on Christmas morning. God bless each of you today and throughout the year to come. May you be blessed to see the image of the Divine, of the Christ-child in yourself–and in one another.

Ben Lawrence Basile
Christmas morning, 2007

© 2007 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

You’re a Grand Old Flag!

You’re a Grand Old Flag!

Found this bit of wall art and really liked it. Found it in a very unlikely place, I hasten to add. Loved it. Took it home. Snapped it. Cropped it. For me, it perfectly captures the feeling of what the 4th of July is about.

Our Democracy has aged a bit. That may be an understatement.  But even after 240 years, the ideals upon which our Country was founded are very relevant. As many have pointed out, 240 is not that old in the lifespan of nations.

Even though, obviously, it was something over which I had no control, I’m grateful to have been born here. I’m glad that I’m an American. Our country is far from perfect, but I love her. Glad to have served in her Navy. I am cautiously optimistic about her future but there are many disquieting things happening right now in our corporate life.

Americans who sit in positions of leadership need to stop making it harder for some of their fellow citizens to vote. This is pernicious, it’s a blight on our democracy and it needs to stop.

We need to get dark money out of politics. Corporations and PACS and throw millions–yes, millions–of dollars into campaigns with no one having the slightest idea of where the money came from. This needs to stop.

The Supreme Court erred badly in the Citizens United case. Corporations are not people. And when they were green-lighted to dump vast amounts of money into political campaigns, it was nothing less than a kick in the gut to Lady Liberty. If that decision stands, The United States will never again live up to the lofty ideal we hear whenever The Pledge of Allegiance is recited: “One Nation, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All!”

This great but troubled country we love can live up to its lofty ideals. But it will take strong, deliberate action by ordinary citizens to right the ship of democracy. When the mechanics of government favor the rich and powerful and avaricious, ever self-serving corporations while ignoring the rest of us, democracy begins to die.

As we commemorate our nation’s 240th birthday, I’m recommitting myself to doing my part to get us off the road to oligarchy and back on democracy’s path. It will take good leadership from our elected officials and a willingness to speak the truth. In the words of Bob Dylan, “Let us stop talking falsely now, the hour’s getting late.”

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile on the 4th of July

 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is one non-profit org working mightily to get the dark money and unlimited corporate contributions out of our elections. Their good work has been very effective and holding our elected officials accountable and shining a light on their misdeeds when they betray the ideals upon which our Nation was founded. To learn more about the work of C.R.E.W. follow this link.