Remembering Infinity

Spirituality | Metaphysics | Consciousness | Life


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The Christmas Truce (1914)


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Let there be Peace on Earth!

For many, it is difficult to imagine the unspeakable horrors of war.  The bitter stench of cordite, explosive rending of earth, air, and sea; and indiscriminate destruction of all that would stand in the way of victory are just the beginning.  There is the inconsolable and heart-wrenching ache of homesickness.   There are the inescapable miseries of Spartan living and the tempestuous wrath of nature.  There is an arrogant fury, fueled by an illusory sense of righteousness that drives combatants to commit unspeakable acts.  There are the lies, manipulations, and raw determination of the brutal and ruthless powers on both sides of the conflict.  Finally, there is the bare and abject fear that shivers through the veins of all who witness its atrocities.  While the horrors of war are experienced to some extent by all, they are disproportionately reflected in the blank faces of the young–for it is most often they who must bear the burden of orders to fight and kill, suffer, or die.

While the costs of war are many, there is little doubt that its highest wages are paid through the wholesale slaughter of humanity.  Fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors; all, regardless of guilt or innocence, are ground under the wheels of martial advancement.  Many lose their homes and livelihoods.  Many must live the remainder of their lives with debilitating injuries of mind, body, and soul.  And many will die.  But in the end, all suffer horribly.  It is this carnage, the wanton waste of human blood, muscle, organ, and bone–indeed, the callous disregard of Life itself, that is the greatest transgression of war.

In our modern world of instant communication and artificial imagery, it is difficult to imagine how thousands of young men must have felt, just over 100 years ago in 1914.  At that time, what was thought to be “The War to End All Wars” (World War I) was being waged on the front lines between France and Germany.  While most of the world lay warm in their beds on that Christmas Eve, two determined armies huddled miserably in muddy trenches, facing one another across a dark and battered stretch of no-man’s land.  Much as pawns in a violent game of chess, these men were trapped between a wet and bitterly cold winter and the relentless grinding of their countries’ military machines.  But in a moment of silence, just when the hour must have seemed darkest, a Christmas Miracle occurred.  Despite incredible odds and the stubborn efforts of the leaders on both sides to stop it, The Spirit of Peace prevailed.

According to most accounts, the uncertain cease-fire began with a song.  German soldiers, apparently overcome by homesickness, began singing Christmas carols.  Allied soldiers on the other side of the lines, fearing a trick of some kind, listened and watched with surprise and suspicion.  Before too long however, someone on their side joined in.   Others soon followed and it wasn’t long before voices rose on both sides of the trenches.  One can scarcely imagine the surreal nature of that moment, for here were two bitterly opposed armies that had been wounding and killing each other for months.  Now, instead of destroying each other in the cold darkness, each side was singing the same song in its own language.  Somehow, and in some miraculous way, these men were connecting to a sense of something–something that was quickly bridging the gap created by the broken bodies of their fallen comrades, the torn earth, and the rigid doctrines that seemed to separate them.

As the night progressed and Christmas dawned the next day, both sides of the conflict came together in a strange new way.  Enemies looked directly into each others’ faces, shook hands, and respected one another as equals.  Each came to understood that his enemy was a human being, much the same as he was–and that each had his own hopes and dreams, a home, and family.  These men, wearing different uniforms, speaking different languages, and representing violently opposing views, found a way to lay down their arms and share something that transcended their differences.  For at least a few hours it seems, humanity returned to the front lines.  All that day, after burying and honoring the dead on both sides, the men shared stories, food, and photos of home. They played soccer and traded keepsakes.  They laughed.  They sang.  Together, in the midst of a war, they found a way to celebrate the season that reminds us that Love and Peace are among the most cherished of all things to blessed with in this life.

Unfortunately, as Christmas passed and the glowing spirit of this spontaneous armistice faded away, the ugliness of war returned.  The peaceful space that had briefly existed between to armies was torn asunder.  It wasn’t long before the crack of small arms fire, thud of artillery, and screams of the dying drowned out the echoes of songs and joyful laughter–but the fact that, for a time at least, songs and laughter could be heard at all among the trenches on that cold, dark Christmas Eve was clearly a miracle.  And it’s one that should always be remembered.

As we look forward to spending this Holiday Season with our own friends and loved ones, perhaps we may find a moment to reflect on this event and look within.  Perhaps we may find a way to overcome some of our own prejudices, the ones that make us feel so different and separate from other human beings.  Instead of seeing only differences and gaps to be bridged between us, perhaps we may begin to see and embrace our commonalities–that is, the things that we share, and begin to accept all fellow beings as our brothers and sisters.  While we may have been taught to see unfamiliar beliefs, geo-political borders, and cultural traditions as differences to resolve or challenges to be overcome, are they not simply opportunities to learn fresh, new ways of experiencing our beautiful world?  And what if we were to begin learning to accept them as such?

If human beings were always able to seek common ground and respect one another as individuals, perhaps conflicts like those surrounding the Christmas Armistice of 1914 would never again be necessary.  I, for one, know that it can be done.  After all, if the power of a Season and a song stopped a war once, it can certainly do so again!

May all the Joy, Wonder, and Peace of the Holiday Season be yours–not just today, but always. 

With Love,

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Remembering Infinity: Going Up!


Wishing you the most brilliant and wonderful Holiday Season and New Year…ever!

Warmest intentions for the most brilliant and wonderful Holiday Season and New Year…ever!

Remember that feeling of excitement and exhilaration when you took some of your first elevator rides? Perhaps it was a little scary—or maybe it was more fun than frightening. Either way, I’m pretty sure your stomach flip-flopped and you felt a bit dizzy with the sudden lurching and swift movement. I know I always did!

When I was about five or six years old, I remember the anticipation of climbing aboard the elevator at one of the larger metropolitan department stores. It was Christmastime and we were headed for the top floor, where the toy department and the Winter Carnival awaited. Complete with its rides, decorations, and fake snow—it was also the temporary home of a child’s best friend at Christmas, Santa Claus!

It was chilly outside and we were bundled against the elements in woolen stocking caps, scarves, mittens, and heavy coats. To this day, I still remember my apprehension at getting on the elevator. Holding my parents’ and cousins’ hands so I wouldn’t get lost among the cheerful mobs of Holiday shoppers, we stepped over the threshold and into the crowded car. It felt cramped, close, and much too warm.

As the elevator doors clanked firmly shut behind us, I felt completely wedged in among the much taller adults, ladies’ purses, and paper shopping bags, bulging with their brightly wrapped gifts. I glanced up at my parents for reassurance and, when they looked down with a grin, I knew everything would be alright. I don’t know if they sensed my nervousness or not, but they asked me what gifts I’d ask Santa to bring—just so I wouldn’t forget when the time came to ask him (or so they said at the time). That helped me take my mind off the swaying and rattling we experienced on the way up and, as I realized many years later, it also gave them an idea of what to purchase for my gifts that year.  Parents can sure be “sneaky” around the Holidays!

After what seemed to be a small eternity, we arrived at rooftop level. There was one last woozy, slightly weightless feeling as the elevator slowed and lurched to a stop. I waited impatiently for the doors to open, feeling somewhat like an Olympic runner at the starting blocks. Finally the doors rattled open to a brilliant world of colored lights, cheerful Holiday tunes, and the aromas of buttered popcorn, cinnamon, and hot chocolate. Cool, crisp air rushed in to replace the stale, dankness and we all surged forward, spilling out into the glitzy, sparkling, and fabulously artificial Winter Wonderland.

My cousins and I, suddenly set free, raced toward the carnival, screaming with joy—for there were real ponies, as well as whirling carousel animals, motorcycles, and even fire trucks to ride! There were games to play, prizes to win, and candy canes galore. Then there were the endless shelves full of toys—with big, shiny metal Tonka trucks, slot cars, model airplanes, G.I. Joes, Matchbox cars, and colorfully illustrated books of all kinds. Not only that, Santa Claus and his elves were there somewhere—and we had to find them. “Last one there’s a rotten egg!” My cousins and I shouted in unison as we blissfully scattered like snowflakes in the wind.

As I fondly recall that and similar Christmas adventures from long past, I can’t help but feel that we’re all experiencing something similar now—spiritually speaking, that is. Our world is changing and we’ve all stepped into a crowded elevator. Some are still distracted by their lists and shopping, not realizing the importance of this time or caring a whit which direction we go. Others, as little children, are awakened to the moment—bright-eyed, joyful, and filled with eager anticipation.

Which way will the elevator move? Will it be going up—to a new world of joyful excitement? Or will it be plunging back down—to the dark, enclosed basement garage where scary things lurk among the many shadows? We all have the choice, you know, and the way you live will determine your destination.

Me? I’ve already pushed the button for my ride. There may still be a stop or two along the way as more people join us, but this is a definitely a one-way trip—and I can’t wait ‘til we get there! So in the meantime, no matter what your own customs or traditions may be, please accept my warmest intentions for the most brilliant and wonderful Holiday Season and New Year…ever!

Going up!

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Remembering Infinity: The Best Gift of All


When we give ourselves, we give others the very best gift of all!

When we give ourselves, we give others the very best gift of all!

A very nice young man I know recently stopped in passing to wish me and my family a wonderful Holiday Season. During our brief but uplifting moments together, we talked about our plans for the Holidays ahead. He confided that his family isn’t especially close and, although they aren’t well off (he actually used the word “poor” to describe their financial situation), he appreciated having the opportunity to get together with them and enjoy their company a few times each year.

It suddenly struck me how sad it is that so many people consider the Holidays as a time to give and receive expensive, material gifts. I realized that my friend had just given me the most perfect and lasting gift anyone could have. In his stopping to share in a few minutes of pleasant, heartfelt conversation, he gave me his friendship. His was a gift that couldn’t be bought, wrapped, or tied with a bow, yet it meant so much more than a mug, a box of candy, or any other material thing could have—and it didn’t cost him a dime!

I thought about the many other gifts we might give others, no matter how empty our checking accounts or wallets may be. These could be as simple as:

A kind smile,

A generous gift of our time,

A friendly wink,

A big hug,

Our caring attention,

A joyful laugh,

A simple meal,

Our understanding,

A gentle touch,

Our forgiveness,

An encouraging word; and,

Our love, just to name a few.

As this young man and I offered each other best wishes over a warm handshake and a friendly parting wave, I was deeply grateful for his gift. He reminded me that the greatest gift of all—and the one that anyone can afford to give, is the gift of ourselves. It’s a gift we can give, and give, and give, and give—over and over again, every day of the year!

I suppose it’s a good thing all those free, but wonderfully meaningful things can’t be left under the Christmas Tree. I wouldn’t have a clue as to how to wrap them!

Respectfully,

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Please feel free to redistribute, repost, or otherwise share this post, providing it is credited to https://rememberinginfinity.wordpress.com.