“Let’s take a trip for Christmas this year. I really want to be away!” I said to a friend, hoping to convince her to travel with me. It would be the second Christmas since my mom and dad had passed. I had spent the first one with dear friends, and, although it was a sweet and festive occasion, I’d shed a few tears thinking about times past and missing my folks.
For many, particularly those who have lost close relatives or friends, what should be joyous holiday times can be diminished by feelings of loss and longing for the presence of departed loved ones. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, understood this well when she wrote in 1900: “Again loved Christmas is here, full of divine benedictions and crowned with the dearest memories in human history – the earthly advent and nativity of our Lord and Master.... Parents call home their loved ones, the Yule-fires burn, the festive boards are spread, the gifts glow in the dark green branches of the Christmas-tree. But alas for the broken household band! God give to them more of His dear love that heals the wounded heart” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” pp. 256-257).
Oh, how my heart needed that prayer to feel more of God’s “dear love” at Christmas. But instead, here I was planning my escape – consulting guidebooks and making reservations.
Through all this planning I kept brushing aside a persistent thought, which I knew deep down was a divine, angel message: “Is wanting to escape Christmas really the best motive for this trip?” So when my friend and I found it necessary to cancel our plans for other reasons, I was not surprised. Still, I wondered if I would have to spend Christmas Day alone.
Then, a friend who knew my trip had been canceled approached me. She worked at a Christian Science nursing facility, which is a place where those seeking healing through prayer receive practical, physical care from Christian Science nurses. She asked if I would present a program of inspirational readings for the nursing patients on Christmas night.
In preparation, I immersed myself in the Bible accounts of Jesus’ nativity (see Matthew and Luke, Chaps. 1 and 2), and Mrs. Eddy’s writings about Christmas. I also collected inspiring articles and poetry from issues of the Christian Science Sentinel and The Christian Science Journal on the JSH-Online website. As I prayed to know which selections to choose, I began to realize that God was gently showing me I couldn’t escape Christmas, nor did I want to. Rather, I needed to grasp more of its true meaning – the profound and eternal spiritual blessing that Christ Jesus’ birth represents for all humanity, including myself.
Jesus’ virgin birth illustrates the spiritual origin of man as God’s idea – His image and likeness, not born into a material and limited sense of life but entirely spiritual and immortal.
In an article titled “What Christmas Means to Me,” Eddy wrote: “I celebrate Christmas with my soul, my spiritual sense, and so commemorate the entrance into human understanding of the Christ conceived of Spirit, of God and not of a woman – as the birth of Truth, the dawn of divine Love breaking upon the gloom of matter and evil with the glory of infinite being” (Miscellany, p. 262).
I knew that I, too, had to celebrate Christmas with my spiritual sense. To me, understanding more of my inherently spiritual nature, which Christ Jesus’ divine origin reveals, meant I could never be separated from God, my true Father and Mother. And if I could not be separated from God, neither could my mom and dad. They were just as present with God as I was. Even though we could not see each other, the fact that we were all with divine, omnipresent Love meant we could never truly be apart.
My Christmas Day was filled with prayer and preparation. When I entered the nursing facility that evening, I could feel a holy sense of divine Love’s presence, and this continued as I read my selections. Driving home on that clear, star-filled winter night, past lighted homes filled with Christmas celebrations, I realized that even though I had been alone most of the day, there had been no looking back, no missing of loved ones – no sadness. There was simply joy in the presence of God’s love, the eternal Christ. I hadn’t escaped Christmas. It had found me!