I was a Christmas baby.
1947 -1985 – Christmas Birthdays & Longings
I am born December 11, 1947: My birth announcement is a Christmas card. Every year my parents put up our Christmas tree on my birthday. As a little girl I find Christmas magical. Then as I turn seven, Santa Claus becomes a fantasy and Christmas becomes a confusion of the secular and the sacred. My parents divorce and Christmas gets ripped in two. My Christmas moods range from delight to disappointment. As a teenager, each year, I continue to feel there is something missing. My Inner Christmas is a continual longing.
1986 – The Holy Nights
As a parent in the Princeton Waldorf school, I hear about the Twelve Holy Nights. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education and extraordinary visionary and source of mystical wisdom, brought many insights on the yearly festivals. He revealed the Twelve Holy Nights between Christmas and Epiphany as the time when the Spirit of the individual and the Spiritual World are most connected. It is a time for special attention to our inner path of personal development. I begin to explore a variety of intentional practices. I don’t succeed as I forget or choose readings that fail to lead me into myself. Yet, I continue to feel there is something of deep possibility during these nights. Years go by.
2004 – The Inspiration
December 22, I find myself at Rockefeller Center, looking at the giant tree with its thousands of lights and listening to canned Christmas Carols. A great New York experience but so electric and commercial. I come home and write an email to the several hundred people on my mailing list about the meaning of Christmas and the Twelve Holy Nights. Spontaneously, I commit to sending a daily inspirational reminders between December 25 and January 6. You can read this first Inner Christmas message below.
Over the next two days I decide to write about the 12 senses – the ways we perceive ourselves, the world and other human beings. Christmas morning I write and send out my first message. I include a thoughtful description of the perception and a few questions for self-reflection. I am scared – what if people find it silly? People don’t. I get emails thanking me. People forward it to friends. I keep writing every day.
2005 – The Almanac
Eric Utne, founder of the Utne Reader Magazine, sends me an email, asking if I will do a piece on the Twelve Holy Nights for his great Cosmo Doogood’s Urban Almanac, 2006. Of course! 50000 copies are printed. It is a gem of an almanac.
2005 – I do it again!
I send out another Christmas message and promise another set of daily messages. This time I work with prepositions. Why prepositions? Because prepositions indicate relationship. We can learn a lot about how we relate to our personal lives if we contemplate prepositions like – in, between, toward, over, etc.
Again, the messages are well-received. I realize that I have found a wonderful way to celebrate the Holy Nights and that the gifts I offer have meaning for most people. I begin to think of doing a book called Inner Christmas.
2006 – The Movie
Inspiration strikes. I have received a number of short flash movies promoting coaching services or inspirational books. Why not create an Inner Christmas movie that would bring images, words and music about the mystery of the Twelve Holy Nights to viewers. I buy the software and engage the support my dear friend, Catharine, and my partner, Alan. I choose the images and write the text and production begins.
The release date is December 1, but due to technical difficulties The Inner Christmas Movie is sent to 223 individuals on December 18. By January 6, over 30000 people in 70 countries have viewed the movie and 10000 have subscribed to the messages. I get notes from all over the world. The 2006 Holy Nights messages are about Soul Qualities, core experiences of our inner life.
2007 – Going Deeper into Christmas
I am working on a manuscript about Christmas. I start working deeply with the complexity of the Christmas experience. First, I take it out of the domain of institutionalized Christianity. Seeing Christmas free from dogma, exclusivity and tradition, I am able to enter into the mystery of universality of yearly experience. Then I deconstruct the experience – what are the parts that combine to make the greater whole. Why is Christmas celebrated by more human souls than any other religious holiday, could it be that it lives far beyond religion?
I have been interviewed for the December issue of Ode Magazine and the movie will be on their website. Ode has a circulation of 130000. I am being interviewed on radio.
2008 – Inner Christmas Evolves
People begin to ask me how to bring the Inner Christmas experience to other Christian Festivals. I am asked to teach a course on Inner Lent at One Spirit InterFaith Seminary in New York City. I continue to work on the manuscript. .
I design and offer Inner Christmas workshops. Inner Advent and Inner Epiphany create meaningful frames for your soul’s journey through the Twelve Holy Nights.
2009 – The Six Celebrations
My dear friend, John Beck, asks me for the manuscript and formats the book (Where would we be without the love and support of our friends?)I publish the Six Ways to Celebrate Christmas! & Celebrate You! To learn about the book click here.
2010 – The Seventh Set of Messages
Seven years of Inner Christmas messages! I have in my heart the desire to create special Inner Christmas books: Inner Christmas for Alzhiemer families, for Buddhists, for those who know it is there last Christmas, for teenagers. I hope soon to have the time to do this work.
2011 – A New Website and More
The Six Celebrations Inner Christmas Workbook is produced. I am working with Lee Hannam of http://yellowfishdesign.co.uk on the redesigning the visual expression of Inner Christmas.
I want to make the Inner Christmas experience rich, beautiful and deeply meaningful for everyone.
2014 – 11 Sets of Messages!
I had no idea when I wrote my first message that I was taking up a devotion. Last year’s messages were opened 43000 times!
All this is amazing. It is joyful and thrilling and a huge responsibility. But I have the Christmas I always longed for.
The Email that Gave Birth to Inner Christmas
December 22, 2004
I truly wish you peace and joy for the holidays.
A few days ago I was at Rockefeller Plaza to see the famous tree. Christmas tourists were there with their cameras. It was quite a crowd. As I turned to walk back out onto Fifth Avenue, Christmas music poured out of hidden speakers and a light show of snowflakes began on the façade of Saks Fifth Avenue. A young Japanese woman approached me to take her picture with the electric snowflakes in the background. It was a New York Christmas moment. I loved the experience, but I also resented it. It was too electrified and dehumanized and the spirit of Christmas, though rich in material thrills, was seriously lacking in the spiritual.
MY CHRISTMAS LONGING
I have had wonderful Christmases. Gatherings of friends and family, great food and great gifts. Midnight services in beautiful churches with angelic music. Some of them have even been white.
But always, my soul was sad and never found a lasting sense of a true Christmas. I knew this time of year had much more significance than western capitalistic traditions and Christian sectarian beliefs. I longed for something that spoke to the part of my being that shared humanity with every other human being on the planet and that nurtured the universal creative spirit in each one of us … regardless of our beliefs or non-beliefs. After all, each one of us has an inner life, a soul. At Christmas, it is our inner soul experience that needs our attention.
Why is this time of year so special? When my daughter was born, I thought the sign of a good baby and a good mother was measured by how quickly the infant slept through the night. To my surprise, I came to cherish the nighttime nursing and did not want it to end. The darkness, silence and stillness of the night gave a very special meaning to this mother/child time. At the time of the solstice and Christmas, our soul finds comfort, warmth and inner light. This is not because our daylight hours are filled with cultural and religious tradition. It is the dark, silent, still nights that grace the soul with spiritual promise.
What do we find living in creative gesture of Christmas? It is the coming of the light in both nature and in the soul. With the solstice, light begins to overtake the darkness in Nature. With Christmas, light and warmth begin to fill the human soul with universal love – if human souls are willing. Though Nature obeys cosmic laws, human souls have free will and obey their own laws and longings. Christmas means we each can fill our souls as we will.
WHAT WILL YOU FILL YOUR SOUL WITH THIS CHRISTMAS?
I would like to share with you an activity that you can design to bring you the best Christmas your soul could find within its self. It will do much to restore the joy of Christmas for you, as it did for me.
Fifteen years ago, I learned about the esoteric tradition of the Twelve Holy Nights. It so answered my needs that I want to share this blessing with all of you. Esoteric wisdom (esoteric is the hidden meaning of things) reveals that the veils between the earthly world and the spiritual world become transparent for twelve nights. These twelve nights fall in the calendar between darkness on December 24th and darkness on January 5th. It is common to include the thirteenth night that brings us to Epiphany, January 6th.
A personal epiphany is a sudden awakening, a pouring of light into one’s thinking. If we undertake some form of personal spiritual attention or practice during the twelve Holy Nights, it is possible that the thirteenth will bring to us a new understanding, a new feeling or a new undertaking for the new year.
This is different from the resolutions we make for the coming year. Resolutions demand effort and discipline throughout the year. Epiphany is a gift or a blessing, If, for twelve nights, you open your soul to the milk of the spirit, you will find the gift your soul longs for.
OPENING YOUR SOUL
Opening your soul brings the awareness and attention to your connection and meaning to all things earthly and spiritual. I want to share with you a profound soul declaration. If, for the twelve holy nights, you speak these words, you’llfind your soul open to good will.
“At this moment, I stand within a World-constellation. I belong to it with my whole being. My breathing and my heartbeat have as large a share in the structure of this constellation, as the sun and the planets. The harmony of the stars, the sun, my heart, my breathing and my feeling, produces the constellation of the moment. The tide of the cosmic hour flows through my breast as well as through the heavenly spaces.” Valentin Tomberg.
With this mood of openness, you can then go further in your opening. You can ask yourself, and the cosmos, questions; How can I serve the world and the future better? What help do I need? How can I give and receive lovingly?
Or you can attend to recalling the moments that surprised you in 2004? What did you learn? Who came into your life bearing gifts? Fill your heart with the experience of moments that enriched you through the seasons past.
Or you can just peacefully sense the spirit realms. Open your consciousness to those beings that are not of the earthly world of the senses. Maybe you have never done this before. That is fine. The Holy Nights are nights of mystery.
It may be that you feel uncertain with these activities. If so, find a book of inspirational writing and read for several minutes. Or listen to sacred music. You can always spend a few minutes outdoors looking at the vastness of the starry sky.
The opening of the soul during the Holy Nights only requires a few minutes of your time to give you a year of blessing.
MY GIFT TO YOU
In our busy world it can be very hard to remember this kind of meaningful soul care. My gift to you is to send you a very brief reminder and a small inspiration in the afternoon of each of the Twelve Holy Nights.
May these nights find you filling your soul with light and warmth.
With my love,