Sliding Otter News 12/31/2011

Christmas Travels of James and the Magi

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Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.

~Mary Ellen Chase~

The Christmas season celebrating the birth of the Baby Jesus continues. The Magi traveling through the desert by camel always fascinated me most about the Christmas story. According to one gospel account, wise men caught wind of Jesus’ impending birth and made their way to Bethlehem. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Their arrival from the East has been celebrated as the Epiphany when Jesus was made known to the world and traditionally observed on January 6, also my birthday.

For me, Christmas brings with it time to reflect on my life so far, on the events of the first Christmas and the Magi arriving in Bethlehem on my birthday. This year I thought of all the times I attended midnight Mass and the crackle in the air amid the pine trees punctuated the quiet. Peaceful midnight hour. I don’t remember being a baby but I do recall all the times babies took center stage at Christmas.

Something new took place in our family around Christmas time this year. A baby, James, traveled with his parents from the East, specifically Abu Dhabi, to Western New York to meet his relatives. He arrived by jet, not camel. Typical of most babies he did not do much, but then he didn’t have to. He cuddled in the arms of those who immediately loved him. Previously they had seen him only in pictures or through the electronic miracle of Skype. His bright, inquisitive eyes explored each person, immediately captivating them with his presence. He smiled his unique smile. He grabbed and nuzzled anything shiny which came into his grasp. He never said anything profound. He never said anything at all. Yet he brought something special to each room he entered and quickly became the center of attention, drawing all eyes to himself.

Any concerns or issues I brought with me into the room vanished immediately, no longer important. Nothing else mattered for the moment. I had a sense that everyone else’s experience matched mine. James radiated pure peace, innocence and delight as only a baby can do.

Babies bring a fresh perspective to each new experience. They have nothing to compare it with and delight in everything happening around them. They never have a chance to become bored since everything takes place for the first time for them. Everything is new, even their own toes. They haven’t learned to like or dislike anything yet. Each experience opens a new frontier.

Babies don’t know very much about life, at least not yet. But they have no worries, cares or problems. They approach each moment with eyes wide open and eager to learn about whatever takes place around them. Maybe we can take some of their peaceful presence with us and try looking at life the way they do.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Spend some time with a baby.
  • Leave behind you concerns, fears and regrets.
  • Look at life the way a baby does.
  • Remember what that feels like.
  • Try it later when you feel overwhelmed.
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