An Advent Message for 2010
(cross posted from my professional web site,
Of course Christ is the center of Christmas. But, in fact, the season holds something for everyone who seeks a better world. This is because, no matter what a person's faith -- Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Daoist, Atheist, or something else -- the Nativity gives each of us an opportunity to open our mind to the possibility of miracles, including the the miracle of peace.
By focusing our mind on the concrete reality of an historical, embodied fact, the Nativity of Christ invites us to imagine concrete ways an ordinary individual can seek the extraordinary -- even the miraculous – in the context of our ordinary lives.
The spirit of the Advent and Christmas season even invites us to take action that could make that imagined, and better, world become a reality.
An example of how the ordinary can become extraordinary lies in the legend of St. Nick. Was he really just an ordinary guy who gave some gifts to some kids at Christmas? Is he a magical elf who wears a red suit and lives at the North Pole? Or, is he something else altogether?
This season, we at Just Mediation, LLC, know of a young child, age ten, who has begun to confirm their suspicions that the person who puts presents under the Christmas tree during the middle of the night on Christmas eve is not a person who arrives with reindeer and a red suit.
But does this realization, that the presents arrived in a different way than previously thought, make the miracle of Santa any less of a miracle?
This little person has always been told that "Santa is someone who loves you very much." Does the fact that Santa has a different permanent address than they previously imagined take away any at all from the joy and love of the Christmas spirit?
For many children, it does take away. Most of us can remember with some sadness the first year we found out that Santa "wasn't real". But, what if there were some way to hold on to that magical feeling about Santa?
In a sense, no matter what the physical facts, it can be said that “he who believes, receives”. It is possible for Santa to remain very real, immortal, and miraculous. How? Because we make it so. As adults with a more refined understanding of Santa, we can choose to redefine the way we view him. Santa endures because he symbolizes, for all of us, a spirit of giving, the magical power of love, and a wish for a world where all of our best childhood dreams come true.
We hope the child will come to understand that even if Santa doesn't squeeze down a chimney, there is still magic. There are still secrets, there is still giving, and there is still joy in Christmas. If the child can hold on to this sense of the reality of Santa, even while the child gains understanding of the “facts” of Santa, the child will have achieved a better understanding (indeed!) of the true magic of Christmas.
A true transformation of understanding will have occurred, and the child will have acquired a deeper and richer understanding of the meaning of the Christmas season.
The child’s transformation of understanding then becomes a lesson concerning love. A new wisdom concerning the magic of Christmas will then be carried forward and continue to shape the way the child relates to others during the Christmas season.
Transformation of one's understanding of conflict, as applied through the style of conflict transformation employed by our mediators, works in a similar way.
The goal of the conflict consultants at Just Mediation, LLC, is not just to "solve" a problem by settling a case, allowing each mediator to get a “settlement star” on our achievement chart. Rather, our goal is to transform your experience of conflict, literally, in a way that perhaps can be explained by the example of the child's transformed understanding at Christmas.
Our hope is that by assisting you in gaining insight to see your conflict in a new way, and in helping all parties to achieve a deeper understanding of the conflict itself, this insight may then open the door to new possibilities and new imaginings of how to resolve it. It’s not always easy. Old presumptions sometimes must be replaced with a new understanding. There may be challenging issues, and old habits of communication and distrust may need to be overcome. Yet, with this new insight, sometimes the previously unimaginable becomes possible.
To characterize agreements reached through conflict transformation as the result of "compromise" is trite. To call this "win win" is not always quite accurate. But to call it a sound method for achieving a better result, that is quite accurate.
And sometimes, though not always, the results can be almost miraculous, offering participants an opportunity to transcend the “what has been” and achieve a better future.
As you contemplate the miracle of Christmas, we invite you to be open to the possibility of miracles everywhere. Including the possibility that miracles sometimes can happen even in the ordinary, mundane world we inhabit in our daily lives.
Behold! A mere babe in a manger. Yet on another level, this Christmas season, be open to the idea that what is truly “real” may be altogether different from what is readily seen.
(Illustration of Tissot’s “Journey of the Magi” is courtesy of Wikimedia commons)