It’s that time of year again, when it feels as if everyone is making plans about whom they’ll be spending Christmas with. On this day, many people are convinced that to be alone, or separated from family, would feel terribly lonely.
Of course, there are many fine, generous reasons to share the holidays with family or friends – to shower them with attention and enfold them in love. But that’s quite different from thinking the day would be empty, and we’d be missing out, if we couldn’t be with the companions of our choice. It is possible, even natural, to feel joy and fulfillment spending this holiday in quiet solitude, or in service to others. It is, after all, a “holy day” – a day when Christians celebrate the humble nativity, or emergence into human experience, of Christ Jesus. And it’s a day when we can honor Jesus as the Messiah, the God-sent Savior of humanity.
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus often spent long hours alone in prayer. Alone, but not lonely, because those hours were filled with a spiritual sense of his Father’s (God’s) presence and love. “I am not alone,” he said more than once, “because the Father is with me” (John 16:32). It was Jesus’ pure spirituality and divine origin that gave him such a clear sense of God’s loving ever-presence.
To Jesus, his Father was divine Love, a constant and real companion. And it’s not hard to see how this could be. Think about how the love expressed by others can make us feel: patient, accepted, comforted, companioned. It can also impel us to be kinder and more understanding. These are things that bring fulfillment to our lives. We tend to think it’s the person we’re with making us feel that way, but it’s actually the spiritual qualities of thought we feel from them that make us feel loved. And in whatever form these thoughts come, or whomever they come through, their source is actually divine Love, God. So wouldn’t it make sense that if we go straight to the source – straight to the divine, all-loving Mind – we’ll find and feel this love that we long for?
When we do feel this love from God, it’s natural to want to share it. Over the years, my profession has often required me to work on Christmas Day. That meant that rarely could I make the journey to be with extended family; that even time with my own children and husband took a back seat to my work schedule. And while there were times when that felt like a big sacrifice for me and my family to make, over the years I learned to appreciate the way my work actually nudged me to enlarge the circle of my love and affection on the holidays. Often I spent the day with folks who wouldn’t see their families at all, and together we reached in thought and prayer for a higher sense of Christmas as the appearing in human consciousness of the holy presence and love of the Christ that Jesus so vividly evidenced. This tender Christ speaks gently but clearly to each heart; it voices the truth about man as a spiritual, not a material, creation. It brings a sense of peace and goodwill that transcends holiday traditions and expectations, and opens our hearts to Christ’s healing, satisfying love.
Spending time with others, being of service to them, or just surrounding them with affection and goodwill can be a wonderful way to share this love. But another powerful, practical expression of love is prayer. I know a number of people who choose to spend Christmas Day alone with God, praying for others. Whether praying for individuals, or for humanity in general, there’s ample evidence in the Bible, and continuing evidence in articles like this one, that humble prayer, motivated by unselfed love, brings tangible comfort, help, and healing. The Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote, “I love to observe Christmas in quietude, humility, benevolence, charity, letting good will towards man, eloquent silence, prayer, and praise express my conception of Truth’s appearing” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 262).
So wherever you are and whomever you are with this Christmas, may you feel the power and peace of knowing that God, divine Love, is with you and yours. And may the spirit of Truth and Love that brought Christ Jesus into view and animated his life and ministry be with you, making it a truly holy day.