Mystical Christianity views each external aspect of the biblical Christmas tradition as symbolic of an inner reality. Here's a brief listing of some of those meanings:
1. The baby Jesus: This represents a Divine self-knowledge (happening through US) that is ever fresh and newborn. The baby also points to the fact that God is dependent on LEARNING through our experience, which adds richness to the Divine Life.
2. The Virgin Mary; Each of us is meant to give birth to Divine self-awareness, which only occurs when we are completely one with ourselves (virgin) and aware that the self-centered, self-castigating ego cannot enter our deepest core ("the womb") which is rooted in the Divine.
3. Joseph, standing behind Jesus and Mary: this is the silent and fatherly Ground of Being into which all things sink and out of which they all emerge.
4. The Silent Night: Divine creativity and expression ("The Word") can only emerge out of a wordless silence. In Buddhist terms, "Form" can only arise out of "Emptiness" or "Spaciousness."
5. Nighttime and the "swaddling clothes": This means that we are embraced by the Divine Presence during contemplative prayer. Because God's "arms" are so close to us, we cannot use the usual concepts to "see" this presence. Faith is a kind of night that is the only faculty capable of knowing a Beloved who is so close - "closer to us than we are to ourselves," to use St. Augustine of Hippo's famous phrase.
6. Sleep: During Contemplative Prayer, the busy, concept-laden mind is "put to sleep," enabling us to "rest in God" ; i.e., in the divine embrace. It also points to the fact that the divine life is born in us in an atmosphere of tranquility and peace.
7. "No room at the inn" and the manger: Only when we practice the simplicity or voluntary poverty of interior silence will the "Word" of divine self-expression spring forth within us out of silence. These also mean that the divine Ground of Being is humbly hidden from the busy world of anxious, materialistic society.
8. The barn animals in the stable: The natural world is the perfect place for contemplative prayer and divine self-awareness to occur.
9. The Star: This means that love must BURN in the heart if God's self-awareness is ever to occur.
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Photo: Limber Pine on Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, December 21, 2015
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.