"Man is what he eats," stated the German philosopher Feuerbach. In the internationally acclaimed book "For the Life of the World" by Alexander Schmemann, this statement is pondered and expanded upon. Reading this book during the Advent season leads one into further pondering, in light of the passing of Thanksgiving, which gives way to full blown secular chaos.
During this time of preparation for Christmas, it seems the whole world focuses on the external preparation. In truth, the noise only blots out the underlying current of those who chose to live in this world, but not of this world. Those who are feeding themselves internally, in preparation of the celebration of His birth are still quietly among us.
The pull to join in and submit to the forces of peer pressure, which comes to us in the form of seemingly innocent party invitations, Black Friday sales, Christmas cards, tree trimming and home decorating is hard to resist…especially when the judgement and expectations of others is at stake. After all, it's all about joy, love and giving...right? And yet, this annual frenzied dance, worn out and spent by December 25th, turns out to be just the opposite. Many feel let down, exhausted, empty, and even lonely. That is because the Fruit of the Spirit, which includes joy, love, and giving, come from within. They are embodied by Him, and are extended to us when we spend time with Him in hesychia - silence and submission.
"Man is what he eats." What are we feeding ourselves with during this time of internal preparation for the celebration of His birth?
Spiritually - The chaos that lives in the collective soul of worldliness? Or, the quiet solitude of reading soul strengthening books and scripture, while prayerfully listening for the Holy Spirit to feed your soul and illumine your mind?
Physically - The sugar and unhealthy fat laden food, laced with toxins created in laboratories, that break down the body and cause disease? Or, the life sustaining food outlined for us in scripture, given to us by the Source of Life, which promotes vitality and prevents disease?
Emotionally - Performance expectations placed on us by those who do not know God, that tap us out and keep us too busy to tend to our mental health and well being? Or, forsaking the judgement of others, and living our life in a way that preserves our sanity. Resting in Him, and focusing on the inner preparation, in expectation of the celebration, of His birth.
I wish you all a peaceful time of introspection and illumination. I pray that your homes and your bodies become a sacred space for Christ to dwell, as He did in the manger as a babe, and that this Christmas be a day that launches a joy so pure that it sustains you long after Christmas 2015 is only a memory.