Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Family Scene by Kahlil Gibran
Stewart J. was the first chairperson of the Prison Phoenix Trust, a Quaker and, for many years, a probation officer in Oxford. He is the only person who 'forced' me to have a pay rise (through getting me, gently, to realize that our fund-raising was bearing fruit, we were on a roll and there was such a thing as being too careful with resources)!
I once asked him how he lived with the challenges of his work, over so many years, given the space for continuous disappointment. He replied, "I have learnt to hope for everything because anything is possible; and, expect nothing as it may not come to be." To hope for everything in a world in which every person carries the 'inner light within' whilst recognizing that the mystery of the person always remains intact. It should never be foreclosed by his expectations, for good or ill.
I sense that this kind of open hope, itself, creates space for real change. It is an invitation for people and the world to step into it and to create out of it.
I have been reading Kahlil Gibran's wonderful 'Jesus the Son of Man.' A chapter a night before bed. With each individual chapter, Gibran paints a portrait of Jesus through the eyes of the people, Gospel bound and imagined, who relate their own memory of him (in so doing often revealing as much, or more, about themselves). But consistently a persisting memory is of being seen by this man, whole, open, invited forward into spaciousness not closed in any expected judgement; and, you sense that this is why they so deeply respond (even those who flee or succumb to hate, flee their freedom).
The Incarnation as an embodiment of a mirroring hope, seeing oneself being seen, and moving into the light of who one truly is. To quote, Fr Bede Griffiths, "This was the very purpose of creation that each unique, individual being should participate in its own way in the divine Being, should realize its eternal 'idea' in God, should 'become' God by participation, God expressing himself through that unique being." That is the invitation of hope that is Christmas.
On a more day to day level, it is, also, a kindly reminder, that every time we meet another person (on or off line), we do not know who they are, we can only create a space, in hope, so that we might together see each other as we are, that the temptation of foreclosing people in our expectation is only too near always (and to regular our occurrence).
Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, filled with hope!