Today’s column comes to us from Erick Dupree. Erick is a writer, meditation teacher, and spiritual influencer known for connecting others with empowered human experiences. His writing has been described as intimate, evocative, and deeply transcendent. Erick DuPree is an award winning writer and author of three books. He is a recognized voice in intersectional Goddess spirituality, gender mysteries, and religion. He teaches on myth, magic, and personal development nationwide.
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“Come darkness, come light
Come new star, shining bright
Come love to this world tonight
That is singer and songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter welcoming Christmas. She continues in her invitation each stanza ending in Hebrew, Alleluia – praise the Lord.
These verses likened to holy texts, are sacred and celebratory. One of my favorite passages from holy books says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” [Hebrews 13:2]. The idea that, in any moment, we might be entertaining angels – and the word “angels” also translates as “messengers of G*d ” (Florenza, 1996)– should inspire us.
I often think that to welcome strangers is to embrace G*d. There are many who believe that believe that G*d’s most powerful angel was actually a “pre-incarnate” Jesus. In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink. I was a stranger, and ye took me in. Naked, and ye clothed me. I was sick, and ye visited me. I was in prison, and ye came unto me…. Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these, … ye have done it unto me” [Matthew 25:35]. That is the message in the messenger’s word, what Mother Teresa called, “Christ, in all his distressing disguises” (McClure, n.d.)
But the disguise of Christmas is much different, and it is covered in glamour magic unbecoming. Italian author Giovanni Papini once wrote, “Jesus was born in a stable, a real stable, not the bright, airy portico that Christian painters have created as if ashamed that their G*d should have lain down in poverty and dirt. And not the modern Christmas Eve ‘holy stable’ either, made of plaster of Paris, with little candy-like statuettes; the holy stable, clean and prettily painted, with a neat, tidy manger, an ecstatic donkey, a contrite ox, and angels fluttering on the roof.
“A real stable,” continues Giovanni Papini, “is dark, reeking….” (Hoddard & Stoughton, 1923). Jesus was born in one of the filthiest places in the world, where shadow touches the earth.
As Pagans, polytheists, Heathens and more many of us know this holy place where shadow touches the earth. This is the place that can’t be seen but can felt, because the counter-culture is the outcast seeking to be welcome. Jesus was born an outcast.
“Come broken, come whole
Come wounded in your soul
Come anyway that you know
Alleluia!”An icon stands like a threshold at the shores of the United States. The Statue of Liberty, calls forth to all people. Notwithstanding, hospitality is counter-cultural in this country. Viewed from a distance, America is the land of opportunity; up close, new immigrants, having undergone “extreme vetting,” are viewed with suspicion, at best, by those who came before them. Some outright denied in their search who what can’t always been seen, but can be felt.
How many of us too have been denied? Told that the litmus test for what we believe is not enough? Have sought refuge away in a manager, in new wisdom traditions that border us to Gods who rise with the sun and Goddesses who touch the earth? Sometimes there is community in the cauldron of solidarity, and sometimes we are alone in her presence. But what seems true is that for many the Pagan, polytheist, and Heathen there is a refuge and a search for that place which can’t be seen but can be felt.
Christmas can be counter-cultural again. Pagan again. Hospitality is at the heart of a prophetic Jesus message that is less about bright lights on trees and plaster creches, and more about the G*d in the dirt. Where shadow touches the earth. We know about that G*d. We know his story, that journey from birth to triumph, trial to death, and his return.
When we return to the earth to the great cycles that transcend the binding factors of orthodoxy for liberation and inclusion we welcome a simpler gift. Hope. Peace. Joy. That is the place that is seen and felt.
What would it be like if we permitted ourselves to embrace that alleluia message of Christmas? Imagine walking through the world and encountering every single person as if they were the angel’s message. All welcome. All worthy. We don’t have to believe this is true; we only have to act as if it’s true, and the world will be better for it … we will be much better for it.
Carpenter’s song concludes,
“Come doubting, come sure
Come fearful to this door
Come see what love is for
I am often reminded that Christina Rosetti wrote that ‘Love was born at Christmas’ (Rosetti, 1904). Regardless of faith praxis, as we seek to a community, sanctuary, and more profound meaning, world wisdom traditions bring us back to love. Jesus was born in the dirt. The Goddess is of the Earth. The space that can’t bee seen, but can be felt is calling us on angel’s alleluia messages, that love is abiding this Christmas.
It all began in love. It all seeks to return to love. Love is still the law.
- Mary Chapin Carpenter, from Come Darkness, Come Light
- Fiorenza. Elisabeth Schüssler (1996). “G* d* at Work in Our Midst: From a Politics of Identity to a Politics of Struggle.” Feminist Theology, 5, 13, Pp. 47–72. | Schussler Fiorenza prefers the spelling G*d because it suggests that, as humans, our ideas of and names for god are ambiguous and inadequate. It also allows for a god without male or female characteristics.”
- McClure, Jane Michele OSB, (n.d.) in “Crossings,” the tri-annual publication of the Sisters of SaintBenedict of Ferdinand, Indiana
- Hodder and Stoughton (1923). The Story of Christ. [London Rep. as Life of Christ.] New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.
- Rosetti, M. [Ed.] (1904). The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti. London: Macmillan, 1904.