Posted by: wordofthevine | December 20, 2012

Having Hearts that are Free this Christmas

Sarah (in the middle) with some of her siblings

Sarah (in the middle) with some of her siblings, Kate and Paul

My daughter arrived yesterday from Denver for Christmas and shared her enthusiasm for life and giving with me. She had developed a different strategy for giving this year that delighted me. She had detached from the glitz of fancy gifts and moved to things from the heart. Now, maybe her present life as a graduate student encouraged this, but I don’t think that’s all that’s been at play. Instead of going over board on expenses, she had shopped at Goodwill and found just the perfect retro shirts for her brothers. She was finishing a great book that someone had given her, and she knew her sister would enjoy it. Part of her gift to her sister this Christmas will be her effort to finish the book today so it’s available to re-gift her sister on Christmas. This isn’t stinginess I say, but a simple way to keep a focus on what’s most important.

With the emphasis on gifts this Christmas, how can we keep our focus on God alone, so we may receive the ultimate Gift this Christmas? It’s a temptation for each of us to desire concrete things, or even less tangible things, like acceptance, approval of others, engagement.  These desires come part and parcel in being human.While these human pulls aren’t bad, in and of themselves, Saint John of the Cross helps us know our trajectory as spiritual people, what it takes to grow spiritually. God wants to free the grasp of our hearts of anything else but Him by engineering conditions to help us develop detachment. Detachment is that virtue that brings us freedom in God, freedom to enjoy His gifts, which many times are some concrete things and social acceptance, but not always. He wants us, though, to be people that don’t have sticky fingers , or people who don’t grasp or covet the good and the glitz that we receive.

You might ask: isn’t this kill joy spirit in this time of celebration? No, according to Saint John of the Cross and the Ascent of Mount Carmel, when we receive God’s gifts with joy, but in freedom, we become able to reap our fullest enrichment.We can be people who carry God’s joy. When we rid ourselves of possessiveness, we become capable of “receiving God’s Spirit in pure transformation.” And, our hunger for God alone, gifts us with the “simple savor and substance of all things” in God.

Now, no letting the cat out of the bag, I mention my daughters gifts to her siblings because, I’m fairly sure they won’t be reading this this Christmas!~Blessings, Mary

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