This gorgeous creature is Pennell Rock, my dear friend of several decades now, who lives in Marin, in Northern California, and is spending the holiday at my house. Read this beautiful piece he has written, which he read aloud at our Christmas dinner table and you might do in years to come, and you will gain insight into the universal meaning underlying the Christian celebration.
The Birth of Light
Gnosis is the fundamental existential truth of Being. This essential truth is not just some passive reservoir of esoteric knowledge. If one looks at the imagery of any great religion, there often is the good news that the essential has the force to come upon us in a revelatory manner. This is the symbolic meaning of the enlightened savior. Christians celebrate this arrival every year, just as the darkness of winter is threatening to envelop the world.
The imagery of the Christmas story expresses the luminous event, which can take place in any human heart. The birth of the holy child is the blossoming seed of Light. Gnosis has nothing to do with worldly grandeur, but is grounded in humility (the stable). It has everything to do with the grandeur of the spirit (the heavenly display and the angels). Because it lights up the essential, it brings a new order and thus threatens anarchy for the non-essential, which rules the world (King Herod), and which will go to any lengths to eliminate its luminous core (Herod’s order to slaughter the first born throughout the land).
The Light of true Being originates directly from the Source (the immaculate conception). It can come forth only when lovingly nurtured by humble and pure-hearted receptivity (the Virgin Mary), and cared for in the trust and protection of the ego, which, through loyal devotion, has surrendered and put away its doubts (Joseph). There is no place for this event in the comfort of accepted society (no room in the inn). The narrow confines of social acceptability cannot accommodate it (no sanctuary except in the stable with the animals). Even, and perhaps specially, it is the naïve outcasts from ordered society, in their innocence, who can recognize and receive it (the shepherds). The mind hungers for gnosis as its greatest potential. The wise will travel the world for it, and once they come upon it will lay before it their greatest treasures (the three kings and their gifts). Gnosis is the just rule of the Good (the King is born).
Joy to the world!