During the first Christmastime after my divorce, I found myself filled with great fear and sadness. How was I going to help my high school-aged daughter, when the Christmas season seemed to be relentlessly reminding us that things would never be the same?
Up to this time, my prayers, based on the teachings of Christian Science, filled me with assurance that our Father-Mother God, divine Love, was ever present, protecting and loving everyone involved. And that all would be well. In fact, a statement by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded the Monitor, comforted me by reassuring me that all was well, right now: “We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 113).
But suddenly the fear and sadness I was feeling seemed to shake my confidence that all was well. Still, I knew from past experiences that if I continued to turn to God, divine Love, I could be free from the debilitating fear.
While I was praying, I found myself pondering the phrase “everything to enjoy” and what it meant for us. I began to realize that Christmas itself was not the cause of my anxiety. Rather it was an overwhelming pressure to perpetuate family traditions that seemed to dictate the success or failure of our Christmas. Traditions that would be impossible to keep this year. But did these traditions really bring us the enjoyment we were to experience on earth and in heaven? Almost instantly I knew the answer was no.
I began to pore over the biblical accounts and Mrs. Eddy’s writings that reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Everything pointed to God’s tender love for humanity, manifested in the birth of Christ Jesus – the gift of the promised Messiah, declaring deliverance from all human discord.
As this spiritual meaning of Christmas filled my consciousness, I realized that in the past our family gatherings had been filled with spiritual enjoyment that reflected the love and joy we shared with one another. The material trappings were insignificant. And suddenly I felt a wonderful freedom from the burden of maintaining human traditions.
About this time I saw an advertisement for an eco-tourist holiday in Belize. I had not thought about Belize before and knew little or nothing about the country. But the program was affordable and appealed to my daughter, who had a strong interest in environmental issues. Obviously there would be nothing traditional about just the two of us sharing a quiet Christmas alone in a rainforest and on a beach in a somewhat remote part of our hemisphere. We decided to go.
On Christmas morning, I awoke early to watch the sun rise over the ocean. And suddenly there it was: a morning star – alone and breathtakingly bright in the blue sky.
I woke up my daughter and together we stood in silent awe, feeling the peace and joy of the moment. We both saw that amazing star as a symbol reminding us that the promised Comforter was present with us at that moment – that it always had been and always would be.
I thought of the star the wise men obediently followed over 2,000 years ago and the awe they must have felt as they knelt beside the promised Messiah – the Savior who would later promise his followers that he would “pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16).
As we stood in speechless joy and gratitude, gazing at that star, I knew that moment would sustain us both for a long time to come.
After that trip, my daughter continued to pursue her interest in environmental studies. She returned to Belize during her college career to do an independent study, which led to rewarding achievements in graduate school. Today she is teaching young children the wonders of God’s universe that surrounds us all every day.
The morning star comforted us. It reinforced the true meaning of Christmas, and it proved that when we acknowledge the presence of God, divine Love, there is nothing to fear but “everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven.”