December 5, 2004

Samuel: Greetings, dears.

Greetings, Samuel.

S: So how are you?


S: Aye? Good as in “All is well,” good as in “I’m here anyway.” Good as in you know that when everything comes out in the end, you actually will have won, no matter what it might seem.

[Interacting with the dog, Oma] It’s not. I don’t like it. Do you want it? You’re welcome. You’re very welcome. Aye. Oma, you’ve got to be the barometer. You cannot just lie there. Do you think? One word.

That would make a great picture. Her ears were up as soon as you . . . 

S: That’s because she knows that I know what she’s thinking, and she thinks these are toys for her, and she’s being very, very good about waiting to be told it’s all right. Sorry.

All right, now, I’ve got you. I’ve got the dog. Here we are. This is going to be one of the most remarkable months of your life, not just because, as you are going to think, every month gets progressively better and better and better, which should be true. But it’s going to be one of the most remarkable months in your life because this time, your holidays, are going to be different than they ever have been, and that’s a good thing. That’s a really good thing.

Holidays are very often stressful, and they are very often filled with memories, some of which go way back to your childhood, some of which go back as far as yesterday. Some of them are all about happiness and joy and love, and some of them are about not having such a good experience of happiness and joy and love. It is constantly a chance for you to stretch, and as you change, and change always happens, as you grow—and if you’re not growing, you’re dead; maybe walking and talking and even breathing, but if you’re not growing, you’re dead. As you make these changes, your awareness affects not only how you experience your day to day life, but it also affects what you remember. It affects how you remember, as well.

Now that’s something to think about for a moment. It not only affects that you remember, but it affects how you remember it. What do I mean by that?

If we’re seeing things differently in the moment, then we remember it differently as well. I mean if we’re putting the positive spin on what we’re seeing and focusing on love, and the glass being half full instead of half empty, all those perceptions change, and the way we remember it will change as well .

S: Precisely. Precisely. Everything that you experience, you experience as the faceted diamond that all of your life is. You experience it, depending upon that perception of a positive or a negative view of it, you experience it as if you were looking from the positive, perhaps, facets, or the negative facets, and not necessarily seeing a situation from both of those at the same time. And yet, you are not truly experiencing something until you have that. Until you have that full perspective, until you are able to see by all of the perspectives, and in life one of the hardest things that there is for you to do when you are—I use the illustration of in the middle of a tornado, what are you thinking about? “Oh, plant the garden next week. All right, that’ll be nice.” You think?


S: Maybe not. What do you think you might be thinking of instead?


S: Again, Stuart.

I hope we get to go to Oz.

S: I’m not certain you would be the one thinking that, though. It would be Glenda over here who would be thinking that.

You’re in all likelihood thinking more along the lines of, as it was said, surviving this instant. Some of your memories are all wrapped up in simply surviving the instant. And if that’s what you have, you’ve not experienced it as it should be experienced. Some of them are just happy, sweet, precious, exciting memories, and yet even for the good ones, the fact of it is, until you’ve experienced all of it, you’re not going to get what is needed from it.

And one of the things that you are going to find happening more over the next section of your life, more so than the last one, is you are going to be finding that you are more aware of all of the elements that are moving into your life right now. That at any one experience, you are going to be able to see from more than a single or just a couple of perspectives. Sort of like living life fully in all that that really means. And the reason that that is probably the greatest holiday gift you can give yourself is because that is the way—that is the way—to release the old, to cut the negative connections, to release the extremes of imbalance, that will allow you to function in this world on a foundation of strength and truth, rather than illusion.

To have in your life the opportunity to live without illusion is, of course, naturally, a very scary thought, isn’t it? Really. Oh, look, you’re all being such good little pious New Agers, saying, “No, of course, illusion is not good!” But in fact illusion is a security mode. Illusion is . . .


S: Denial, yes. Illusion is that thing that allows you to feel in control, that thing that allows you to feel nothing when you need to feel nothing. The problem with it is when you spend too much time in illusion you feel nothing, even when you want to feel something, because illusion numbs you. There is a difference between detached and numb. And with the gifts of this holiday season, you are, I hope, going to have the tools to make the best possible use of that greater perspective.

And that’s what I want to talk to you about tonight. I want to talk about why particularly Christmas is about perspective. And to do that I’m going to tell a little bit of a story. All right. As usual I will need some of your help. The problem with that, I found yesterday, is that you have a somewhat warped cultural experience, and I think what I said yesterday was “a whole room full of Sunday-school dropouts.” So try for this one, all right?

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a land that every day gets closer and closer and closer to you, as this world gets smaller, what might have been far away a thousand years ago, impossible a thousand years ago, is not quite so distant now. And that was a land called . . . who here thinks I’m about to say Atlantis? Just checking. Just checking. But if it were Pittsburgh, aye. Galilee, Nazareth, Judea, Egypt, and the story that I’m going at here is the one in which there was a very sweet couple who were sort of radicals. They were, they were radicals. They were radicals because they were not quite so willing to follow family tradition, and that’s where a lot of my focus is tonight.

Now, who is this couple.

Joseph and Mary.

S: Joseph and Mary, and for the most part who were they? Say that.

Jesus’ mom and dad.

S: Right. Right. And you know, as so often happens, the kids are just so precocious, you just forget about the parents getting involved in the kids. And this is a story about the parents, because the fact of it is, you would not have this holiday without them, now would you?

Once upon a time, there was a young woman—and she was young. She was about thirteen years old, as you would count it. They counted a little bit differently, but thirteen is about it. She was considered a young woman. She had her menstrual cycles beginning and she was ready at that point for marriage.

Now marriage was not marriage as you tend to have at this time. Marriage was a very long process. There was sort of like a handfasting. You don’t do that either, do you? All right, never mind. It’s sort of like a long engagement, where there would be a uniting of families as the children involved did some growing up together, and within a year would make a final determination, “Yes, we are going to come together in marriage,” or “No, we are not.”

Now, there were several—many, actually—societies that worked marriage that way, and I have noticed that that seems to be the case coming back into style here, where the two come together, they hang out for a year and they say, “All right, let’s do more,” or “No. Goodbye forever. I’m moving out.” The difference, of course, is that you’re not dealing with a thirtee- and fifteen-year-old—hopefully. Maybe mentally speaking.

Being recognized as a woman was a ceremonial event. It was a ceremonial event that none of you experienced. It was a recognition that life was going to change now, and I want you to think about it for a few moments. Take off your jaded adult head for a few moments and put on your imagining head.

You have no idea, Mary Claire, what is in my head.

Maybe I don’t want to know.

S: I’ll tell you later, but it has to do with . . .

Oh, no!

S: Gymnastics.

Oh, no! I know what it is now. Please don’t mention that. Yeah, we’ll talk later.

S: So, small distraction. Where were we? We were going with . . .


S: With a ceremonial year of moving into adulthood. And what I want you to do is to put on that imagination hat—don’t put yours on—and with that on, I want you to think for a moment about what life was like—what you think life was like—at a time in which thirteen-year-old children were married to culminate a year later; in which fifteen-year-old men were married to culminate a year later, because life spans were much shorter, and living conditions much different. I am not saying harder; note that. I think that’s one of those egotistical things every society comes out with, that now is the best of all of them.

How many of you work more than forty hours a week, regularly. Keep your hand up a moment. And you remind everyone else in here that life is not easier now, that you have so much technology to make things so easy for you.

So what are the sorts of things that might be different? Well, how about . . .

More family [. . .]

S: Yes. Yes, there absolutely was a family unit that functioned quite differently than the typical one does here in this country. I say “here in this country,” because it’s not typical in the world to have the sort of separation that you have here in this country. It makes sense, I would say, that there would be so much alienation, separation and isolation as there is in this world, even in some of your own lives, when there is a system that is set up for children to be gone, old ones to be sent away. No wonder there is the isolation because that isolation has been made the right thing, the good thing, the way it should be. So, yes, the family unit was different. The extended families stayed together much more closely, much longer.

The rules of behavior, the societal expectations for Mary and Joseph were very clear. I don’t know if rigid is the correct word, but they knew exactly what was expected of them or else.

S: And why is it, you think, that very strict rules of behavior are enforced in a society such as that? What do you think the purpose of that is? And I want to tell you, it’s really a pretty on-the-surface, obvious reason, so don’t try to dig too deeply for that answer.

There was more chaos within the culture.

S: Yes. Absolutely. To avoid chaos.

Preserving tradition. Encouraging conformity.

S: Preserving tradition—yes and no. Yes and no. Conformity tended to be necessary in some pockets of society more than others. Where do you think conformity was most needed? In any section—and usually the religious section that was not mainstream—in any section in which there was a possibility of being outcast, there is a need for conformity and strict behavioral codes in order to ensure the safety and what to some would be considered the emotional well-being of others. Also because you have a large family complex, small village situations. In small town America today—any of you from a very small town? And you—yes—you know everything going on with everybody? Well, that’s not different. When you know everything going on with everybody, it’s more important to have specific rules of behavior, particularly when your village—small town, if you will—was particularly poor, did not have cars to get you out of town when you wished. In fact did not have many burrows to ride you out of town with a fast stick. In which children were always running in and out, in which people were always walking in and out, in which everything that you did was known by everybody. It’s not saying that what that means is everybody had a religious, a rigorous, moral system. It’s saying that there were very specific behavioral rules, things you saw and did not see. Things that were considered private, even if you were seeing it out at the well. And that was required in order to have peace in a very small situation. So, yes, absolutely, a very specific and strict code of behavior.

And, just to move this on a little faster, I also want you to think about such things as getting water in the house and cooking in the house, things that had to do with the day-to-day behaviors, the dependence upon nature around you, the dependence upon your neighbors and family; the sort of experience that maybe the Waltons had is the closest connection you can have to something like that, because it’s not at all what you’re living with. But it’s important that you recognize that the society accepted things that are very hard for you to imagine, and that they rejected things that you would never consider rejecting, that they had and did not have things that you would consider imperative.

Part of what they had—and I mentioned it a bit when I said particularly religious groups—they had a time in which there were many, many, many variations of religious thought and service. Now, that might be a little bit hard to imagine, based on the versions of the stories you tend to get, but think about it for a moment.

An important thing you need to remember is that the Jewish people as a whole were considered a rabble-rousing group, as a whole. They were filled with different—I have a hard time saying this word, so work with me—different sects.


S: I don’t want to say cults, and I don’t want to say sex. I want to say . . .


S: . . . small divisions of beliefs within every major division of Judaism as it was known at that time. What the local rabbi taught was what every one of the local people followed, but that might not be the same at all as the next village down followed, or the next village from there followed. It was a system that had the advantage of creating a group that believed and felt essentially the same thing, but who were not necessarily stuck in theirs being the only right way, because they would meet for a festival with ten other villages, and it would be variations here and there of what was done.

I need you to think a moment about the importance of family, the need for specific systems of behavior, the open but closed—and I mean it that way—system of belief, that, in fact, one of the greatest things holding those chosen people together was that they were so disparate, different, that outsiders considered them rabble-rousing, odd, no firm beliefs, so that in a sense the persecution they received pulled them together.

I want to say all of those things another way. All right, I want you to remember that family was vital and vitally important, and that there were specific ways that you behaved to gain approval and acceptance, and that sometimes it was you against the whole world, forcing you to remain in those structural behavioral systems, because you fairly well knew you couldn’t make it in the world. Does any of that sound a little familiar? And if it does, I’m so sorry.

Now, Mary’s mother comes to her one night and says, “Mary, dear”—of course you know she didn’t say it like that, and the name wasn’t Mary. She says, “Mary, dear, we’ve got a big ceremony coming up. It’s time to start getting the cooking going, and this year you are going to be the one who starts the bread for the ceremonies. You are going to be the one who cuts the first slice at all of the meals. This is a very special time for you.”

And Mary says, “I had the weirdest dream last night, Mum.”

And Mum says, “Yes, dreams are interesting. We always do that. Enough of that foolishness now. I want you tomorrow morning to remember to ceremonially prepare for your day.”

“Wait, this dream! In this dream an angel talked to me!”

“That’s right, angels talk to me all the time, dear. Don’t worry about it. Remember that first you’re going to wash your hands.”

“Wait! It told me I was pregnant!”

“Don’t talk that way, young lady. That’s silly. That’s impossible. I’ll come back and talk to you again later.” And off she goes.

Mary goes to bed, sort of troubled about that odd dream, and during the night, another dream comes about. And this time the angel is a little bit more persistent—right—saying, “I really meant what I said. You are being chosen for a remarkable and important work. You are very special. And you will be remembered for generations, because you are on this planet at a time of transition, and a sacred plan is unfolding and you have an important part in it. You are going to be the mother of God.”

“Excuse me, I have one question about this part,” she says. “How can I be a mother when I’m not even married?”

“Oh, well, you don’t have to be married for that to happen. Don’t worry. It’ll come about.”

Now, the next morning she wakes up. She dangles her feet over the stone arc in the wall in which she has her blankets and skins. She dangles them over the edge, and she’s thinking about what in the world could that mean? What could that possibly be about? She gets up. She washes her hands in the ceremonial basin. She washes her face ceremonially. She washes her heart. She washes her belly. She washes between her legs, and she pauses for a moment, and she thinks “Maybe I should tell Joseph about this.”

Do you think that he said to her “Really, you won’t get pregnant! You don’t have to worry. I’m taking care of it.” And now she’s thinking, Uh-oh. She washes her feet, and she moves out into the day, pouring out the olive oil, pouring out the flour.

The next night—three nights in a row this angel knocked on her door, the door of her heart, the door of her head—and this time the angel says very boldly, “Look, Mary, you’re pregnant already. But don’t worry, everything’s going to be all right. You’re going to have this child, and this child will be the savior of the world.”

And this time Mary said, “Excuse me, I’ve got to run next door and talk to Joe.” [She] runs next door, gets a hold of Joe and says, “All right, I’m pregnant. What now?”

And he says, “Oops!” All right, no, he did not say that. He said “Well, what have you been doing?” You laugh. “What have you been doing? Well, we’re already this far into the betrothal. I will marry you anyway.”

“But, Joseph, an angel came to me and said that I was pregnant and that it was going to be a very special child.”

“Yeah, right. Okay.”

And next in line of dreams comes [an angel to] Joseph, who says “Joseph! What you heard was true. Mary is pregnant, and this will be a very special child. You can do this. Marry her, now.”

Now here is where the story gets a little interesting. Joseph goes over to Mary’s. He makes the formal greeting to all of the family, beginning with the eldest. After he’s made that greeting, he goes back to the eldest, asks permission to take a walk with Mary. Of course, that’s all right, take the smaller children along, because they’re going to help out in case something comes up that . . .

And Joseph says, “All right. Let’s formalize this marriage. I’m really here because I am going to talk to your parents, and we are going to get married, and we’re going to let it be known what’s going on.”

She’s thirteen years old. He’s fifteen years old. Sure, it’s a different society, it’s a different time. It’s hard, though. And you cannot say that pregnancy before marriage did not happen. As long as there are men, and as long as there are women, it will happen, but it was not acceptable.

And when Mary and Joseph determined that they were going to deal with this and keep going, what your Christmas stories never tell is the courage and the compassion and the willingness to let go of all they knew in order to do what they believed in.

No, that part of the story is pretty well pushed aside so that you move from interesting angel dreams to taxes in Galilee, birth in the stable, and life continues on. You don’t hear too much more about them, when, in fact, their willingness to brave what was their society, the courage to talk to their parents and say “No, this isn’t normal, but this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to deal with it.” The willingness to take what all, I can assure you, came their way with misunderstandings and shunning. They are the reason you have that Christmas story. But there’s one more direction, one more perspective in there, that often gets left out, and this is when Mary and Joseph went to speak to their parents.

Common law for an unmarried, pregnant girl was to be stoned. Now, those of you who are parents, think about that for a moment. Is it very likely that you would want to stone your child even if they came and said, “I’ve robbed the bank. I’m going to prison. I’m going to be dragged through the streets first.”? No, not the streets, the newspapers first. No, you just sort of take a deep breath and brace. Maybe you yell and scream a while. Look at your own past, dear and beloved children of the light. Were you ever that child coming to your parents with news they did not want to hear? And, unfortunately, some of you know the very difficult versions of parental reply. The “maybe stoning would be better” version.

They went to Mary’s parents and said, “Mary’s pregnant, and I wish to complete the betrothal now. We want to get married. We want to start our own home.” Now, what would that mother do? What would that mother say? The father probably would stomp around a bit, grumble a lot, be, perhaps, a bit relieved, though, that they are doing the right thing, and that it’s going to end up working out. But the mother’s lost her child in a way that is going to make the family situation very difficult. What’s she going to do?

In your own life, you are faced very often with family situations just like that. All right, not that you’re pregnant, having to speed up the betrothal, but you have in your life beliefs, perhaps, that just don’t quite fit what the village wants to approve of. It isn’t exactly what everyone else in your family has done with their life. Are you as brave as those two? To move through it and say, “We can work through this.” Clearly, it was worth it to them. What would that mother do? What did your mother do? What did you as a mother do? What would you do? Cry? Get angry? Tell her that she is stupid and you’ll have nothing more to do with her?

The thing is, you could not do that in that society, because even if you shunned them, they weren’t far away. So it was a useless thing to do. Although, you know, you know how it is possible to be so cold to somebody that they know they are shunned. Sometimes, acceptance of what you would never choose is one of the biggest tests that you have in front of you. Sometimes, courageously standing up for what is different is the biggest test you have in front of you.

For those of you who know more of the story, you know that Mary’s parents and family, and Joseph’s parents and family accepted and helped. And I don’t even now really understand why that powerful perspective of the story—the Christmas story—is left out, because what is given is that what the angels had to say was not nearly as important as what the parents had to say. And you can relate to that. That in your life you are faced with times in which you can deny or accept, you can deny what you know, what you feel. You can deny, but you can’t hide, because, like that baby, you’re eventually going to feel a kick you can’t deny. You can avoid, you can pretend, but the time’s going to come that you’re going to have to be honest, you’re going to have to make a decision, and that decision is going to be, “Am I willing to let go of what I have held safe and march into the unknown, or can I just close my eyes and maybe it will all go away? Maybe no one will notice. Maybe I can hide my love, hide my heart, hide my power, hide my wisdom, hide the part of God inside of me so that I can just continue on as if nothing happened.”

I will tell you, the courage they had should be sung forth as an important part of that story, because they said something you are constantly having to say yourself: “I have God in me, and I don’t really understand, but I know that because of that I am here to make a difference in the world, and I’m going to do it. And if that means I have to give up the warmth and comfort of my family’s hearth, I will do that.” Because I will tell you that for the next twenty-five hundred years people have been trying to figure out how to not do that, how to avoid that very thing, how to keep it so bland and regimented and societally correct that the great birth just gets put aside.

Well, the fact of it is, the holiday really is about the birth of the baby. The truth of it is, though, that there were a lot of outs those parents had. Mary’s parents, Joseph’s parents, and Jesus’ parents—they could have said no. They could have made fun of her, told her that she was wrong, convinced her that it was just a dream. Mary and Joseph could have played along. They could have gone through the whole pregnancy and never let on about the angel part, you know. They had all the same choices you do. They had all the same choices you do, but instead of being ashamed and afraid, they chose to be awed—not odd. They chose to see the miracle. They chose to experience the change and live with it. They chose to move forward, no matter what the consequences might be, because the gift they had was worth their life.

This holiday season you are very often in the middle of a family that’s in turmoil. It may not even be turmoil regularly, but you put all of the stresses of the holidays on it, and you get to have a certain amount of chaos and turmoil. Sometimes—oh, gosh!—you’re even a part of it.

You have a miracle growing inside of you. You are chosen. The angel says to you in your dreams and in your days and in your nights and on your first-Sundays, “You are very special, and you have a gift to bring to this world. You are here, chosen to help this world reach the greatest completion there can be. This is all a part of the Plan, and you have been chosen to give birth to a wholly new understanding of God in this world.” And you say, “Merry Christmas. Got to buy twelve more presents; have five more days.”

You have a great gift falling on your laps this year, and that is courage. An outpouring of courage that your heart cannot possibly miss. Courage is one part compassion, courage is one part strength, and courage is eight parts, all the rest of them, pure powerful intent. You have a miracle inside of you. You have a love inside of you that is meant to be in this world. You are here to open doors and sometimes that means being more honest than you really are comfortable with. Sometimes that means not sitting back and just letting life happen around you. Sometimes that courage means you take a stand and don’t let the Grinch, the Scrooge, the societal constructs, the family rules, maybe you don’t let them just happen around you. Maybe you have the courage to say, “This is different. I am different.”

Courage is a gift—yes indeed—it’s also a curse. You know that don’t you? It’s a gift because it provides a clarity to see the way to move and go when you need it. It’s a curse because, when you don’t take that way, you know it.

This is a holiday season that can be filled with stress, frustration, expectations—met and unmet—bickering, tiredness, that can be filled with the fulfillment of desires that aren’t yours, lifestyles you don’t care about, customs that don’t mean anything to you, and your act of courage might be to take a deep breath and go through it anyway with a smile and love in your heart, or it might be that this time you say, “Let’s try something different.”

Christmas is about a miracle, but that miracle came about because of courage. And you can change your whole experience of a holiday season that’s meant to be about miracles, from beginning to end, a miracle of Light, a miracle of new birth, a miracle of Oma sleeping through the meeting. She did get up to grumble a moment, though. It’s meant to be a miracle and you have growing in you the foundation of what it’s all about.

Some of you hate it when I do this, but I’m going to anyway. This is Christmas. Christ in you. The hope and glory. Christ. That’s not Jesus. It’s the mantle put upon the savior of that world. Christ in you. That’s a miracle. Even more of one, Christ as you. The hope and glory. You can give birth to a miracle this year. Courageous communication. A willingness to see more than just one view, one understanding. To look beyond “Mary gives birth to a baby in a manger” and see what led up to it. To look beyond “this is the memory of Christmas dinner, and it’s not fun, and it’s difficult,” but [see] what led up to it. What’s your part in making it work?

The miracle of Christmas, dear ones, happens every time you give birth into this world of the Christ that is in you, the hope and glory for this world, the love that changed everything. Courage. Courage.

An outpouring that began about three weeks ago, and is going to be continuing for probably another six weeks. I strongly recommend that you look at those areas of your life, particularly the ones that you think aren’t going to be ready, and what you’re really about, and that you give them a chance to be born this year.

Happy, happy Christmas. Now. Glochanumora.