Holy Days, Apocalypse and Gift Giving
The Holiday season—in older times known as the Holy Days—is a time when we give family and loved ones presents packaged in all different shapes and sizes to be unwrapped and uncovered. If millions of people still partake in this ritual, It seems to me that this age old practice must have a deeper meaning than what our consumer culture has hijacked us into believing.
The times we live in seem nothing short of Apocalyptic and this time of year feels even more chaotic than normal. Ironically, The Apocalypse-- a much feared and misunderstood word-- may be intimately tied to the gift giving rituals of the Holy-day season. The Greek roots of the word Apocalypse are “Apo” and “Kaluptein,” meaning to “un-cover.” (Apo meaning “un” and kaluptein meaning “cover.”)
What if the Apoclaypses, the Great Uncovering is actually a gift?
What if we are being handed a great cosmic gift to unwrap together? What if we are now in a great Holy season of the soul?
To be clear, what I am asking is not a way to minimize the incredibly deep, real pain and suffering that so many beings are experiencing right now.
What I am asking rather is, how might the symbolic act of gifting be one of the keys to understanding the role of Apocalypses in our human suffering? How is the un-covering of our suffering a part of the evolution of the individual and world soul?
Perhaps there is a deeper Joy that is secretly concealed inside the suffering—much like we conceal presents we give each other with wrapping paper to disguise their valuable contents. Perhaps, inside the darkness that is upon us, within the murky waters we are wading into there is something of great value waiting to be discovered. Waiting to be un—covered.
Gold is hidden in desolate places.
"The most secure place to hide a treasure of gold is in some desolate, unnoticed or ruined place.
Why would anyone hide treasure in plain sight?
And so it is said,
Joy Is Hidden Beneath the Sorrow.”
Maybe, we have forgotten how to be with pain and suffering. Is it possible that our modern culture came about as result of avoiding these experiences? Many of us are taught to fear and reject these so called "negative" emotions. Is it possible that the very joy we seek can only be found within the pain and suffering we have so carefully kept at bay?
There’s a saying in Buddhism:
“No mud, no Lotus.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The lotus being the symbol of the fully realized, pure consciousness. And for a lotus to bloom, it needs mud. The lotus cannot exist without the fertile ground of murky, dark and what some might consider undesirable conditions.
Only by staying here in the mud, in the wreckage. Only by humbling ourselves into the hummus of the mess do we have any chance of unlocking the potential for transformation. Only through witnessing, holding, truly receiving and grieving, feeling the hurt can we begin to find our way towards a deeper joy, towards a life that is more expansive.
Only by actively participating in our pain are we able to make the nutrients available, to create fertile ground out of the muddy mess to grow the lotus.
Finding the Gift in unpleasant, unwanted parts of life, be they emotions, experiences, sensations, is no easy task. But, it just may be the ultimate task of the human spirit that we are being called to at this time.
Perhaps we are the great spiritual gardeners of the planet; the composters of the dark and painful, and we are here to tend and turn our suffering into nutrients for all souls to thrive on.
Maybe our salvation has always been at hand.
And at this time of year, it is literally in our hands. In the gifts we give and receive.
But the only way we can truly experience the present is to unwrap it. We must first uncover the gift—we must Apocalypsize (a new verb) what we are given.
And if you have family and friends that are at all like mine, then most of the time the wrapping paper isn’t always the color I wanted or even the texture I like. And lots of times what I unwrap in my hands isn’t usually what I had in mind as a gift I thought I wanted to receive.
So often we throw out the gifts we are given; mistaking them for trash, or unwanted things. Not realizing there was something very special there waiting for us. If only we dare to sit with what we have been given, with what we might un—cover. To be willing to put our hands into the mud of life. To trust the deeper gold concealed within.
And if you’re like me, then you have probably rejected, thrown out and left many presents unopened.
But don’t worry,
Life has a way of giving us another gift. And another. And another, until we are ready to unwrap it, to un—cover it and see the “present” in our hands for what it truly is. The only present we have ever been given.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! How do you see the ritual gift giving playing a role in the lives of your family and loved ones? What does the Apocalypse meant to you? What Holy-day traditions help you find joy in the darkness?