Sunday, 20 December 2009

Celebrating...

by Eilleen
Consumption Rebellion

Hello everyone!

What wonderful posts we've been having on this blog! To the other writers here, a big thank you from me.

Readers of my personal blog will know that I'm a bit of a bah-humbugger when it comes to Christmas. The commercialism and over-consumerism of this time of the year has, to date, elicited at least one bah-humbug post from me every year since I started blogging in September 2006!

But I have to admit, another part of me really wants to truly celebrate this time of the year. Whatever your religion (or no-religion), this time of the year marks many events and festivals - Bohdi Day, Hannukah, Al Hijra, Summer Solstice (in Southern Hemisphere), Winter Solstice (northern Hemisphere), Christmas and Kwaanza to name a few. I truly believe that this time of the year may be one of the few times when many of us are, in turns, reflecting and celebrating.

However, is it possible to truly celebrate simply without over-consuming? Whenever I ask myself this question, a huge part of me wants to say "Of course its possible!". Unfortunately, the reality is that for many of us, celebrating is done collectively. Unless your collective has the same values and ideas on how to celebrate, there will always be tensions or "disconnects" associated with this time of the year.

Many of us who have opted to go against our collective's norms and choose a different life will have come up with this dilemma of addressing the disconnects sooner or later. In my own journey, I've found that its this time of the year that highlights the disconnect between my own ideas and others.

When that disconnect is shown in such stark terms, its easy to get caught in the trap of not wanting to celebrate at all. And that just makes me sad.

But as with most things in life, sometimes all it takes is a mind-shift and one can see this time of year in a whole new light. So I thought I'd share this sermon I stumbled on last year from a Reverend at my local Uniting Church. While I am not a Christian, I can recognise the wisdom in his sermon and I thought I'd share it here:
Christmas is a global weaving together of religion, media and popular culture, creating a legitimacy of its own, and independent of the church’s definition of spirituality.

...while most of us would say there is a problem with Christmas, some religious critics believe the problem is called ‘commercialisation’. A few of us, critics of the religious critics, disagree with that answer.

The problem is not ‘commercialisation’. That is just a modern age-old wrinkle. And if you believe the reports in The Canberra Times, such commercial vulnerability that Christmas spending brings is not always welcomed by the commercial sector. No, the problem is, there is no longer any ‘surprise’. Both the church and the business world encourage us to ‘celebrate’ but their messages are rehashed and blatant. There can be no surprise, for there is no subtlety. Richard Frazier suggests:

“The dynamic is similar to the difficulty we have seeing rainbows and smelling roses. Rarely do we experience beauty in depth. Instead we move on to something else, distracted just enough to miss that which is most important and immediate” (Frazier 1992:71).

We will not understand Christmas by simply trying harder.

...Christmas is best seen as we are open and receptive to its simple mystery: being sensitive to opportunities from the present moment when an incognito God is in the midst of ordinary daily events.
Full sermon is here.

So wherever you are, whoever you are, I would like to wish you moments where you can truly appreciate the beauty already surrounding you - in ordinary events and even in people who are different from you....and in turn may your awareness of that beauty help you to truly celebrate.

My son giving me a flower. This photo was part of a series of photos taken by my children when they decided they wanted to show readers of my personal blog how they see their neighbourhood. I'm not sure how they affected readers, but what they did do was show me how beautiful my neighbourhood was. Something I had forgotten until then. Blog post is here.