Taking the Secret Something-or-Other game to heart

Posted by on 12.26.07 | No Comments
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At the office where I work, we do a Secret Santa/ Harry Hanukkah/Kerry Kwanzaa routine where we draw names and then for 2-3 weeks in December we look for any and all opportunities to do really sweet and cool things for that person. I have found that doing this helps me look more closely at the co-worker for whom I am their Secret Something or Other. I watch what they like to eat, how they accept the gifts they are given, how they walk when they’re feeling good. It makes me want to find ways to delight that person. This simple fun game that we play made me ponder: what if we treated each other with that same kind of deference, that same kind of joy…each day?

Around the last Central Oregon community fire on December 16 Krayna C. told us this story, as we moved from the time of Hanukkah to the Solstice and prepared for Advent.

There was a Russian Monastery that was dying. The brothers were growing old, many had died. The villagers had stopped coming to visit the monastery. Young men were no longer interested in dedicating themselves to the monastic order. This decline led to worry, and the loss of hope led to bitterness. In desperation the Abbot went on a pilgrimage to visit his old friend, a Rabbi from a village aways away. The Abbot hoped that the Reb might have some wisdom that could help the Abbot’s beloved community. The Abbot arrived after a long journey and after some catching up and breaking of Challah bread and enjoying some hearty wine, he explained his problem to the Rabbi. The two wise elders sat in silence for a very long time. The Abbot patiently waited to hear some word of hope – a blessing, a prophecy, just something simple to try. Finally the Abbot could abide the silence no longer and asked if the Reb had wisdom to share. The Reb replied, “I’m sorry, but there really isn’t anything I have to tell you. I don’t know what the future holds for the monastery. I am truly sorry. But oh,” and he paused somewhat dramatically, “but there is this – I believe that the Messiah is in your midst.”

The Messiah? thought the Abbot. Among us at the monastery? He was a little put off–by all rights he himself should know this bit of information, he thought. But after a good night’s sleep, and a lovely leave-taking of his friend the Reb, the Abbot fairly rushed back and reported the unexpected news. The Brothers began to question, “Who is it?” “Who among us is the Messiah?” Surely not Bro. Nicolaus–he gripes too much. Surely not Bro. Stavros–he is so whiney. But what if …? “ And on it went. And in time as the brothers began to suppose that any one of them could be the Messiah, they began to treat each other with more kindness. With their renewed spirit of expectant and open inquiry, respect and love became noticeable. This atmosphere wafted as if on thermals into the local village and rumors of the Messiah’s presence grew and deepened so that everyone began to wonder if their neighbor might be the Messiah. And though no one was ever identified as the Messiah, the monastery began to again thrive and the village was blessed and young men devoted themselves to the faith.

Meanwhile, the Reb smiled.

A few days ago I posted The Ridiculous Hospitality of Advent. It’s really the same post as this one, only this one is in a story form instead of flowing from a poem. What if…the aunt you think is nosy and gossipy, the niece you think is shallow and crass…what if they are the Messiah?

And ok, since we’re going for it, what if YOU are the Messiah? You with all your baggage from childhood (just ask me sometime about how mine reared its unsavory head over Christmas), you with your lack of ___________(fill in the blank). Or your over-abundance of _________________(fill in this blank too). What if we began treating ourselves with the respect and dignity, honoring and joy that we would if we knew that the Messiah was sitting across the breakfast table, with his hair uncombed, his breath smelling like dinner from the night before?

What if…I treated everyone as if I were their Secret Something-or-Other?

I’ll be away for a few days, but will check back in on the 29th. I hope to hear from you, you Messiah you…and if that term is too laden with schmutz, how about…you Secret Something-or-Other you?

Remember that that 12 Holy Nights from December 25 through January 6 are sweet, deep and rich with mystery. Make sure you allow lots of space for dreams and walks through winter woods, whereever you live. You are birthing the fruits of the next 7 years in your heart as we walk through these days.

Remember too that you have to ‘join’ to be able to add comments or post stories, or sign in if you’ve already joined.

Love,

Beth, VTH Host and your Secret Something or Other

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