As we near Christmas we recognise what we can give to others. When we look to the divine with all our heart, we connect with a divine essence. In the Christmas carol ‘ In the Bleak Midwinter, one verse describes being poor and having nothing to give the Christ child. Instead the writer gives the only thing she has, her heart. This is the last verse of the song and we are left with the image of the writer handing her whole life over to the divine. The power of this message is clear even in a few words.
Of course in truth we are never spiritually poor, through giving to God we are richly and abundantly blessed. We tap into our heart and there is the message, the message of God’s love for us, within us and as us. The abundant blessing bestowed on us and the truth that we can never out give God. In the story the writer gives the only thing she can and the most precious thing of all, her own heart. We can be certain that when we truly give our heart to God, dedicating ourselves to this love, we are transformed and receive every blessing. We are filled up, we have enough to give, our cup overflows, we let it flow and we let it bless others.
The story of the Christ child’s birth is a powerful one symbolically, and an image that always stood out for me even as a child was the giving of the gift . Every character in the nativity play has a gift to give; a cuddle toy lamb from the shepherds, a collection of sparkly boxes wrapped up to represent the treasure of the Wise Men.
As a child I often wished that there was a character that arrived without a physical gift. Indeed in some folk versions of the story there is an extra character. Sometimes a poor shepherd boy, other times a holy fool or a young entertainer who makes the child laugh. I learned recently that in parts of southern France they have a tradition of adding extra figures to the nativity set, ‘santons’ or little saints. These figures represent people in the community who they want to honour or thank.
I think this also serves as a reminder that we are part of this story too. We all have a gift to give, to give without expectation or reward, simply with love.
Take a moment to imagine that familiar stable, almost as if we have always known it. The smells of animals, the rough touch of the straw, the sound of hushed voices and angelic singing.
A woman and man stand watching over the manager in wonder. See the figures gathered round, travellers from around the world drawn in by love, a sense of a new hope in the darkness. Overhead we see a bright shining star making night seem like day. A sense of peace, love, and abundant joy. Stay with this image for as long as you wish.
Many blessings to you. Happy Christmas.
Daily Word UK Editor, and Storyteller
Unity in the UK