Let’s hope she was a tourist
I was not there myself but I am told that the following happened last week at the Shepherdstown Post Office. A mother and her (about) eight year old daughter were completing their transaction at the counter. As they were turning to leave, the postal employee serving them wished them “Happy Holidays.” As mother and daughter made their way to the door, but within the hearing of everyone, the daughter said to her mother, “Why did she say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. Her mother answered, “Some people have turned away from our Lord. It’s just New Age bunk.”
Let’s hope she was a tourist!
As everyone should know by now but apparently not everyone does, we say “Happy Holidays” as an expression of the new-found awareness that not everyone subscribes to Christianity and so can feel slighted in our pluralistic society when Christians act like they’re the only game in town. Since Christians seek to imitate Christ, they desire to be compassionate and so they are careful to respect others especially those who may not be in the majority. Moreover, when Christians convey attitudes like that, they are also sending out exclusionary signals that are not a part of the mind and heart of Christ. Jesus was always accepting and inclusive of everybody whether they were prostitutes, tax collectors, collective enemies of the Jewish state such as Samaritans, Roman centurions, or outright thieves. He was not about branding people but looking into their hearts and loving them as individuals. Indeed he teaches that not everyone who calls him Lord will enter the kingdom but those who hear the real word and keep it. And elsewhere he says that many shall come from the east and from the west and take their places in the kingdom while those who swear allegiance, but with hardened hearts will be cast out.(Insofar as the kingdom is the other-worldly heaven, recent Near Death Experiencers have written books saying everyone is there…but that’s another column).
From all of this we can conclude that the postal worker, whether she was formally a Christian or not, was more “Christian” than the mother in this story. In other words she was more loving.
I do not know the mother described here and I do not wish to judge her. It appears though that she has a spiritual journey ahead of her. Like the “Wise Men” who visited Jesus at his birth, she needs to heed the dream warning “written on the subway walls/ in tenement halls” not to return to her own Herodian ways but to chart a different route back home to her true heart where True Love dwells in humility. A pleasant Season of Light to everyone.
(Bill O’Brien, M.A., M.Div., is a spiritual development practitioner and mentor. He and his wife Linda, a Beathwork practitioner, have lived in Shepherdstown since 2005. You may contact Bill at email@example.com or by phone at 304-876-6071.)