The holiday season will bring with it plenty of chaos and merriment. It will be a reminder of family, a reflection on the hardships and celebrations of a year gone by, and a focus on hope. Every religion known to man seems to be honed in upon this season, from the Jewish miracle shown by a lamp that could not be extinguished to the birth of a child king in a stable. I hope that every atheist, agnostic, or religious person will reflect on the meaning of this time. I know I will.
For me, I have an odd tradition, born out of watching The Waltons as a child. The Walton family was especially stressed that evening, thinking their father might have been killed in a car accident. Young John Boy Walton gathered his younger siblings to explain why he went to the barn to see the animals. As a Christian, he believed that since the animals in the stable were the first to see the Christ child, that they become animated at the stroke of midnight, kneeling, and speaking as humans would. And for my entire life, if I didn’t fall asleep first (spoiler alert, happens a lot), I have ventured out at midnight to find such a miracle. Living on a small farm as a youth in Glen Mills, I must admit, neither the cows, donkeys, horses, nor chickens bent a knee or talked out loud. But the act of walking at midnight into our barn, in the cold, taught me something very special. The act of seeking a miracle is sometimes more powerful than miracles themselves.
At midnight, in the cool of the night, you can actually smell the stillness. The stars blink a bit and the moon on Christmas eve shines bright. And the world seems motionless. As if for a small bit of time it stops spinning. And for a nanosecond there is no war, there is no grief, there is no chaos, and there is no division. There just is. And that stillness is profound and beautiful.
Regardless of your affinity to religion, you are probably in need of a nanosecond of peace. And while it may seem crazy in writing, I challenge you to see for yourself. Take the time. Get outside. Take in the cold, the dark, the light, and the silence. Sometimes the act of seeking the miracle is the miracle itself.
I hope you will send me a note about your experience, because you are worthy of it.
Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and Cheers to the New Year.