Posted by: theodorecosmosophia | December 20, 2012

Presence Not Presents: Reflections on Christmas, the Solstice and the Season of Darkness

I have mixed feelings about this season. I don’t like the darkness and the cold, but I know that we need it, that it provides an opportunity to go within. I hate the commercialism, but I know that the Christmas season is an opportunity to remember our connection to the cycle of the seasons.

Here is an excerpt from the preface to Cosmosophia about a very different Christmas experience:

On Christmas morning, exactly 2,000 years after the birth of Christ according to our calendars, I found myself in a small village in the tribal areas of western Pakistan, waiting for the border to Iran to open so I could pass through.  I was terribly sick—some bad dates I’d eaten, perhaps—and lonely.  I had not expected to miss the Christmas season, but the loneliness I was feeling from months alone on the road was exacerbated by my knowledge that it was Christmas. 

Christmas is rather low-key in the tribal areas of Western Pakistan.

It was dark and bitterly cold, as the desert usually is at night.  The darkness, along with my sickness, contributed to my loneliness.  I wandered blindly through the town to find a place to rest, and settled on a pile of burlap sacks.  I lay down and looked up.  Immediately I was transformed by the immensity of the stars; unlike the terror of my youth, I felt intimate with them.  In a few moments, some local men, rifles slung over their shoulders, invited me to come into their home to drink tea around a fire.  The isolation I had felt as an American only made this interaction feel more powerful.  They saw me simply as a human being, smiling and laughing kindly when they realized that I was from America.  Moments of communion are all the more powerful and transformative when creative compassion is required in this way.

Christmas, if we could only stop shopping, teaches us that the moment of deepest darkness is the moment when we realize the light we each possess. It is, after, the celebration of the birth of god in the humblest of places.

Happy Solstice! May you give birth to your own light in this time of darkness.


  1. Beautiful reflections, Theodore. What is the meaning of Christmas when, unmoored from our comfortable, back-at-home life, we feel alone, then suddenly some strangers, some other infinitely-valuable members of our Human Family, take us kindly under their wing to hearth and home. In so doing, they are following Christ’s highest and deepest admonition to all humanity. And they, just like us, I’d wager, are yearning for Union with Divinity without consciously knowing it most of the time.

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