Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rediscovering the Beauty of Christmas ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rediscovering the Beauty of Christmas ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

It was a family tradition not to be missed at Christmas - a live performance of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker." Dressed in our Sunday best, we filed into the large hall and took our seats down front. Our children leaned forward, legs swinging, eager to see the dancers bring to life once again the classic story they knew and loved so well.

I had always shared their delight. But as pulleys creaked and the velvet curtain rose, my heart sank. I've seen this ballet one too many times, I thought. I knew what would be coming at every turn - the adults' stately dances in the party scene, the stout grandmother's jig that leaves her collapsing into a chair, the mysterious Drosselmeyer twirling his black cape as he performs his magic. Like the life-sized dolls that step stiffly out of Drosselmeyer's giant boxes, all the dancers looked to me like wind- up toys, carrying out their prescribed choreography.

Was this a reflection of the way I had come to celebrate Christmas? Was my entire Christmas season already choreographed? Cutting a full-sized tree and decorating it, baking quadruple batches of cookies, rushing from errand to errand so I could tick off items on my long shopping list, wrapping brown paper packages for 25 relatives, and attending a number of mandatory functions. No wonder the tinsel had faded.

But while I sat there watching the ballet, I longed for that childlike sense that sees and feels the beauty and joy of the holidays for the first time. I couldn't bear to think that I was losing - through age, stress, or whatever - the inspiration and delight that I'd always felt at Christmas.

I prayed with a deep desire to see the spiritual beauty that I knew was as present as God. I was echoing the psalm that reads, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple" (Psalms 27:4). The beauty I was longing to see was the beauty of Soul, Spirit, which is permanent and as solidly real as Truth. …

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