This Christmas is not the same

This Christmas is not the same

It’s Christmas Eve as I write this and I’m in an unusual frame of mind. I can best describe my mood as peaceful and grateful but with an undercurrent of unease permeating my emotional landscape.

I’m not a traditional kind of Christian. Over the last 20 years or so, I’ve morphed into what might be best described as an ethical Christian. Don’t buy into the heaven and hell stuff but believe strongly that the teachings and life of Jesus are a shining and unique example of how people should live.

The meaning of Christmas and the feelings it brings for many of us are still a very big deal for me. It gives me a real feeling of hope for weeks leading up the Christmas Day itself. I typically walk around feeling that peace-and-goodwill-to-men sentiment pretty strongly, with carols playing in my head all the while.

But this year, it’s different.

This year, there is a dark, ominous cloud hanging over those tidings of great joy.

It seems so foreboding that as we celebrate the coming of God’s divine life living among us, our National life is being sullied and our collective peace has been torn apart by a hateful and dangerous demagogue.

The peace and goodwill part of the Christmas message rings hollow with a hateful and ego-driven man whose creed in life is to hit back ten times harder if offended or slighted purporting to lead our country.

A man who lashes out with fury and vitriol at any perceived offense or even when someone simply fails to sufficiently stoke his ego or sing his praises.

Reading of daily outbursts of that sort at this formerly-glorious time of year does tend to spoil the happy remembrances of the angels’ song. I’m not hearing that hope-filled message of the Christ-child coming to earth, being born of a simple, humble maiden.

The angels, shepherds, oxen and lamb keep the sacred, awe-filled vigil as… as the rage-filled, spiteful, revenge-obsessed man-baby plots to sew more chaos throughout his kingdom and to silence and humiliate the critics, the non-believers who recoil from his twisted message or dare to resist his reign of vitriol and hate.

The story of the divine child in the manger is crowded out by the advent of this modern-day Herod who forces the infant to prematurely flee to Egypt, with Mary and Joseph cutting short their sojourn in the sacred stable, riding away on the ox that witnessed the Holy Nativity.

In my heart-of-hearts, I can’t see the Divine One swaddled and laying peacefully in that humble altar of wood and straw; I can’t hear the Christmas message of the word-made-flesh; I cannot feel the dawning of a new era of peace, hope and reconciliation.

I can only feel the hot breath of hate, the elevation of cruelty to the highest stratum of heaven and the gathering of the sinister storm which will pull the curtains from the temple, exile the children of promise and sully every teaching, every precept of goodwill, righteousness and reconciliation.

This Christmas is different. This Christmas is filled with a sense of fear and foreboding. This Christmas is sullied by selfishness and scorn; despoiled by a new advent of greed and cruelty.

This year the hopeful message of Christmas is drowned out by the droning of a baleful message of division, heartlessness and hate.

Child of the manger, deliver us from this darkness and despair! Grant a new dawn of hope among all people of goodwill, all who still listen to hear the angels’ song!

 

Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2018 Benjamin Basile

 

Featured artwork by Dona Gelsinger.

A Christmas Morning Wish for Everyone

A Christmas Morning Wish for Everyone

Sending this out again exactly ten years from when I first wrote it! Merry Christmas, everybody!

About Photography, Outdoor Fun, Food, Music, and Other Stuff.

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”……

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Bulldog’s Christmas Wish Is a Return to Trimble Park

Bulldog’s Christmas Wish Is a Return to Trimble Park

Visiting parks and natural sites, with or without camping, is one way Americans like to spend the holidays. I throw my lot with my fellows who’re into such things.

I’m very much hoping to spend at least a part of the week between Christmas and New Years Day camping in Trimble Park, a fave spot of mine. It’s here in Orange County, but about a half hour away from me.

There are two complicating factors for me at this moment: the first is that I haven’t booked yet and the demand for camping spots around the holidays in very strong. Very, very strong, in fact.

The second potential issue is that I had a minor accident in my PT Cruiser on Monday evening and am not too sure at this point just how long it’ll take me to get my wheels back.

I’m going to do my dead-level best to solve these problems and get back to Trimble Park before the year’s end. For right now, I’ll be content to post a pic I especially like from a previous visit. It features some waterfowl specimen I find fascinating, though I can’t say for sure what it is!

If you can identify my fine feathered friend, a comment with a tip would be most welcome!

I hope the next few days go well for you as we get closer to Christmastime. And remember to get outdoors!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

A Christmas Morning Wish for Everyone

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