Thursday, January 1, 2009

Zen and the Art of Post-Holiday Clean-Up

Phil and I have been deliberating over the true meaning of Christmas. Phil (a self-proclaimed Scrooge) believes that the extraneous messages attached to this sacred holiday (in the form of Norman Rockwell paintings, Hallmark cards and even Dickens's "A Christmas Carol") combine to make up the chimera that interlopes on the Advent season. This gluttonous monster, subtly sneaks in and imposes its humanistic philosophies on what should be a carefully guarded and authentic Christ-centered holiday.

Contrary to my husband, I am the gal who excitedly sets up and adorns the precious *Wal-Mart artificial Christmas tree, hangs the red furry stockings (bought on clearance some years ago) with joyful expectation and throws twinkling lights on just about everything that needs a little razzle dazzle. can probably imagine how our conversations go every year at around this time.

But today as I am taking down the tree, I find that this is actually the period of the holidays that I treasure most - the clean-up. It's at this point when I can bask in the zen-like experience of minimizing. After every bauble is lovingly put back into the Rubbermaid box, I will dust, vacuum and place a single solitary white candle on the coffee table. Surprisingly, this is the environment that cultivates real focus on things that matter most - the spirituality that inherently comes with simplicity. This must be a piece of Phil's argument. We must challenge ourselves to cut through the distractions (even when they are well-intended) and focus on the unmistakable and profound meaning of the incarnate Christ. During this frenzied season (exacerbated by the idol of American consumerism), we must not allow ourselves to be misdirected on this critical point: God's love is interacting with us and in this season we celebrate its inception. Profound. Simple. More than enough.

*We bought this tree at Wal-Mart some years ago. We no longer purchase products from this chain. Email me if you want the details.