Healing holiday melancholy
The Christmas season is usually filled with joy and happiness. Perhaps more than any other season, it is accompanied with selfless giving and family affection, which are among the most satisfying human qualities.
But for many people, all holidays - and especially Christmas - seem filled to overflowing not with gladness but with melancholy. Family may be gone, friends seem uncaring - or, even worse, mechanically caring. Or there may seem to be no friends, just a cold bus station or an empty house.
But this gloom can be melted like dreary winter slush. There is an answer. In fact, one of the great reasons for the Christmas celebration is that since the arrival of the Saviour, mankind has more tangibly than ever before felt God's tender promise that there always is an answer to human woe. We may have lessons to learn and characters to purify, but there is always a way out of troubles, including melancholy.
The way out is the way of the Christ, Truth. When the babe of Christmas became the Teacher and Exemplar of Christianity, he said, ''I am the way, the truth, and the life.'' n1 But was the ''I'' Jesus referred to his temporary human person, now gone almost 2000 years? Wasn't he referring to his eternal spiritual nature, the impersonal Christ, Truth, that he taught and lived so graciously and fully?
n1 John 14:6.
The Christ reveals man as God's perfect spiritual child, the full expression of all His qualities, and inseparable from Him. It dissolves the belief that man is a lonely mortal, separated from good and filled with fear. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''To-day the Christ is, more than ever before, 'the way, the truth, and the life,' - 'which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,' healing all sorrow, sickness, and sin.'' n2
n2 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 257.
If we feel we are in the midst of aching holiday loneliness, the Christ may seem much more remote and far less needed than a simple human embrace. But that is never true. Never. The Christ is actually closer and more needed than any person. Furthermore, there is forever within all of us a glow of humility that is willing to admit that this is true. Some may call it the indomitable human spirit. But it really is our innate, God-given consciousness of man as God's precious child rather than a mass of despondent or even joyous matter.
As we let the Christ gently awaken this dormant glow of spiritual consciousness, it will build into a flame of spiritual conviction that is more alive with angelic joy than a house of laughing children. As this spiritual conviction unfolds in us more and more Christly love for ourselves and others, it dries the lonely tears that may have been caused by selfishness or by Christmas traditions and expectancies that have become too material. We feel an awakened desire to give, not get, and we find immediate, practical ways to give, even in such simple acts as holding a door for a package-laden shopper or calling a neglected friend.
We never have to suffer melancholy at Christmas, even if we do not have the people, decorations, music, food - or perhaps the alcohol - that many seem to honor more than the Christ. Though the holiday can be meaningful with most of these, it can also be meaningful without any of them. The original Christmas was full of joy because of God's holy promise of peace and salvation, not because of men's material pageantry, for there was no pageant in that common stable. God's promise still stands. He is inseparably with us.
Melancholy dissolves as we celebrate Christmas in our hearts through humbly accepting more of the truth demonstrated so fully by Jesus - the truth that man is the beloved child of the one God. Mrs. Eddy writes, ''The basis of Christmas is the rock, Christ Jesus; its fruits are inspiration and spiritual understanding of joy and rejoicing, - not because of tradition, usage, or corporeal pleasures, but because of fundamental and demonstrable truth, because of the heaven within us.'' n3
n3 Miscellany, p. 260.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul Psalms 94:19