FR. MICHAEL WRITES:-
According to the National Trust research has shown that taking the family out for a crisp winter’s day walk before or after Christmas dinner means that loved ones are half as likely to fall out on the day than if they remained in the house! Perhaps we should all meet on the riverside or in Gunnersbury Park or the grounds of Chiswick House (which, incidentally, the Estate Office confirms are open today). If we do happen to rendezvous, there will be no arguing as we will be among the 50% enjoying peace and serenity in our souls unlike those we leave at home… This, however, is rather the point. Why is it that those who would insist on remaining at home, unless for some important reason or matter of capacity, would also be unable to see that in refusing the manifest good of some air and refreshment, that they are acting to their own detriment, that they are not acting in their own best interests? They would perhaps think of the option before them, whether to go or to stay, simply as a matter of whim with no objective consequences. But if the option to stay at home resulted in a rashly made barbed comment or hurtful word provoking family fallout or a row to erupt from an abiding resentment, the option to stay at home would clearly have had detrimental consequences. This is rather the same with our spiritual lives. Every facet of the experience we have of our own being alive – our physical wellbeing and our health, our mental, emotional, psychological and moral ‘lives’ are all vital to our living. Even the secular mind-set would agree with that point, as well as the fact that these aspects of our lives are very inter-dependent, with challenges in one area or another, such as ill health for instance, affecting the others and vice versa. What tragically many cannot see, like those who cannot see the good of going for a Christmas afternoon walk, is that all of these aspects of our lives coalesce, root themselves, find their focus and ultimately their destiny, in our spiritual lives, our relationship with God and, more importantly, God’s relationship with us. This, it seems to me, is what our spiritual life is about, that developing recognition of God’s intimate presence in every aspect of our lives, that he loves us there and gives himself to us as irrevocably as he gave himself to us in the stable at Bethlehem, and that such a love elicits our free response as it did from Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the angels. Yet this practising in faith the recognition of God as the source and summit of our lives, the living of our spiritual life, can often be the first of our manifold lives to be neglected even as it invites us to truly inestimable good. As we reflect and rejoice in the radiance of Christmas today, that God-is-with-us in Emmanuel, let us be sure to get up and go to meet him in our daily lives. HAPPY CHIRSTMAS!