When you sit alone - amongst a landscape of trees that twist, cream and sway in the strong wind that is powering over the hillside - what does Christmas mean? It isn't quite a gale, but the warm buffeting wind has brought greyness and occasional spots of rain to an otherwise bright and sun-filled week. Here I am, sheltered from the turbulence that breathes restlessly around me, feeling the landscape beneath my feet stretch away down the hillside and out towards places where Christmas dwells in homes and towns. The landscape doesn't know Christmas. It gives us the essentials for our life and yet Christmas seems a self-centered indwelling of the human spirit that has no connection with what I am experiencing here. Yet the birth of Jesus, from a cosmological perspective, began the salvation of the earth from the sinfullness of consumerism that may ultimately destroy it. For us humans this highlight of the year is meaningless to the trees around me - they are oblivious to the Christcentric revolution that occured on earth in human culture two thousand years ago. Christmas fails to acknowledge the ecology of our fragile biosphere unlike the more pagan and celtic festivals that honour the rhythm of the seasons and the interdependence of man and nature.
I have, for a few hours, escaped the need to be part of Christmas. I am surrounded by it at work and at home but up here it has changed its meaning. Yet if the message of Christmas is the birth of love, then that is what it does mean to me - love for all those around me and the giving that I partake in signifies that. On days like this I can give myself to the landscape in an offering of presence and awareness that I would like to believe it appreciates. Its gift to me is one of beauty, peace, life, salvation and light. Light. For now, at this one moment in the whole day, the sun has just appeared through the greyness to touch the fields and trees around me with a faint wash of brightness and colour. But as soon as I see blueness between the clouds above it, it begins to fade and the heavy greyness recovers its ground.
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I see two ladybirds on the ground beside me. There have been many this autumn. They look cold and tired.