Have you felt that your Christmas celebrations are lacking in real meaning? Have you wondered what Christmas is really about or why it matters? One option which might bring you a significant and rewarding experience this holiday season is to approach Christmas from the mystical perspective. Every world religion has its own mystics. They share a common preference for direct and real experiences of the divine, choosing real knowing over dogma or theological beliefs. Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross are all well-known Christian mystics, and they have been an inspiration for many who seek a real experience of the divine. If you want to make this season more meaningful, try taking the following steps to connect to a mystical experience of Christmas:
On the first Sunday evening of Advent, sit with your family or your spiritual friends and light the first candle.
Read an important part of the pre-Christmas story. Recommended texts for the story of Christmas, other than the Bible, include Maria Valtorta's "Poem of the Man-God, Volume 1," and Anne Catherine Emmerich's "The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
Light one additional candle on each of the Sundays of Advent, reading another part of the story and feeling how the physical increase of light symbolizes the inner approach of the Great Light.
On Christmas Eve, make that evening all about the birth of the Light instead of the materialism of gift giving. You can attend a Christmas service, meditate quietly on your own, or join with others to pray for peace on earth.
Finally, read the story of the birth of Jesus out loud and meditate on its beauty, what it represents and what it means for you.
During these weeks of Advent, tune into the feelings you get in meditation versus the feelings all around you in the outer world. You will likely feel how the light is increasing in your interior world, even though outwardly the days are becoming shorter and the nights are becoming longer. These steps provide the opportunity to examine the symbolism of these characters inside of us. Where is Mother Mary in us? Where does Jesus reside in us? Which parts of us are like Joseph, the shepherds, the angels or God? Every element of the Christmas stories relates directly to our inner being and serves as an inner guide on the journey towards God, bringing us into a deeper awareness of the inner truths of Christmas and the joyful mystery of the coming of the Light. In this way, you can experience the real meaning of Christmas: We can hope, and we can fill with Light, because God loves us beyond all measure.
Mother Clare Watts is the co-director of a mystical Christian school and Order called the Order of Christ/Sophia. She is an ordained Master Teacher and Priest, holding a a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and the author of Giving Birth to God, A Woman's Path to Enlightenment