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Christmas in Brooklyn

By:Jack Schimmelman
Date: Sat,22 Dec 2012
Submitter:Jack Schimmelman
Views:9620

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Bay Ridge by
Brian Merlis

I lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn for close to 15 years. During that time I worked at jobs in Manhattan, which began early in the morning and found me coming home very late at night, around the midnight hour sometimes later. Bay Ridge is a community of single-family homes, mixed with small multi-family apartment buildings. I lived in the latter. It is a working class/middle class neighborhood. People take pride in their homes and present them as best as possible.

Each Christmas eve I would navigate the wishing hour that divides the days. Snow is on the ground. All is quiet. The snow is pure. It is during these moments when I can feel my essence breathe deeply allowing a stream of harmony to wash over me. I stare with wonder at the modest Christmas lights that my neighbors have managed to create. In many windows I can see pine trees that have lovingly been invited indoors adorned with an array of color, silver tinsel and precious objects. Some are topped by angels, others by homegrown images. These sights and sounds reassure me with their eternal simplicity.

For several years a universal feeling ascended from my heart during these late night, early morning Christmas strolls. I felt loved unconditionally. On those pristine walks, I loved unconditionally. I can only identify this feeling as Christ consciousness. Throughout my decades of timeless struggle, I have periodically wondered how this could happen to me. I am not an extraordinary person, but rather someone who seeks those sacred moments of grace, but invariably falls short. Anger has been a constant companion, although I have managed to dissipate much of that discomfort along the way. I have stood on shores hoping to catch a glimpse of the beacon for which I yearn. So why has this profound feeling of peace embraced me each Christmas. I believe that despite our prodigious attempts to deny unconditional love that resides in each of us, its power is so great, so magnificent, that we are all capable of moving to its music.

Some insist that the Christ consciousness comes only to those who are "special." I am here to tell you that it can come to the most downtrodden, as well as the most socially powerful person. And when it does arrive, totally unexpected, we are brought to our knees, sometimes metaphorically and often actually. What is this Christ consciousness? Is it only embodied in one historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth? At the risk of angering those who believe devoutly in this paradigm, I bear witness that the very nature of Christ is that it resides in the DNA of us all. And when I say "us," I not only speak of human beings, but rather all manifestations of life. For that omnipotence is the very essence of unconditional love. It is the soul of all of life and call it what you may, this essence is what I call God.

I believe by dint of massive yearning, the Christ consciousness is summoned by our broken hearts, our elation, our lost soul, whomever you may be during this Christmas spell. In a sense, it doesn't even matter if the historical Jesus was born during this period that we call Christmas, for there is a lot of controversy regarding that belief. What matters is that humanity has set aside a moment of time, a moment of space when we may be available to that feeling of unconditional love which alights the darkest soul. These moments are manifested universally. It is the potential of such an experience that keeps many of us moving forward, slowly, but relentlessly. I believe the Christ is constantly evolving, eternally growing to embrace all of life in its myriad of mysterious existence. We are not perfect. Perfection is messy.

We live in times of great conflict; great horror. We kill each other because of ideology. We dominate each other out of terror. We are blind to an ever burgeoning cloud of tragedies whether it be human trafficking of children, women, men, wars waged against the helpless, manipulation of children to destroy themselves by dangling a greater glory in front of their exhausted lives - the list is endless. I am sure that you who read this can add to the roll call. And that is just what we do to our own species, never mind our devotion to annihilating other life forms in the name of self-preservation and pleasure. We can only act in this manner because we deny our own divinity; we disavow our place in the fabric of life. If one thread is destroyed or merely damaged, then the entire cloth must adjust and suffer from dissonance that plagues our hearts.

I exhale, fully emptied, to finally say that it is a fool's folly to try to separate ourselves from the other. We are each other. As Walt Kelly (Pogo) once said:

There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tiny blasts of tiny trumpets, we have met the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.
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