After years of thinking about how many Christians don't get the deep meaning of Christmas, of deploring the endless shopping and consuming and general craziness, of wishing it were possible to go deep this time of year, I started Zen practice and began sitting Rohatsu sesshin. I had gotten my wish: a December that had within it the possibility of doing serious spiritual work, a week or so of the Great Matter rather than a week or so of the Big Sale, a time of discipline and focus in a season of indulgence and laxity.
I consider it a not insignificant point that the way we commemorate Śākyamuni's great awakening is by flat-out imitation. We sit and resolve not to stop until we have realized what is ours to realize.
So this month I'll eat the cookies, exchange gifts and light a tree. I'll tear up singing a song about Mary's boy child, and I'll ponder that what we call human and what we call divine are not two. No need to chuck all that, really. As a Dharma brother once said to me, "Nice decorations, gifts, good food – what's not to like?"
But I will also know something of Buddha's "How wonderful!" firsthand. And I will know something of the deep communion that comes as many of us all over this earth sit very very still over the next week or so. How wonderful, indeed!