Would you be offended when people say X’mas like people in San Francisco dislike being called from “Frisco”? According to the dictionary X stands for Christ in Greek. Xtian means Christian and there is the term Christogram.
Growing up in Christian schools, Christmas caroling at nursing homes, orphanages or even on the street in busy Hong Kong was my fondest memories. Though a baptized Protestant, I studied Buddhism for over a decade and now more into Zen and Tao. I had spent an entire year studying the Bible from first to last page with a very intellectual wife of a pastor and then another year with an American missionary doctor trying to figure out do I really believe in resurrection. Though I desperately long to have a God to unload my burdens with prayers, Dalai Lama ‘s comments on it’s not right to pray to God for resolving the mess we create when asked about the terrorist attacks, that may be closer to what I can believe.
What is X’mas? Crucifixion is a profound lesson on injustice at Easter, but I will be kidding myself and others to say X’mas means a lot to me though I love to go to church on X’mas Eve for the beautiful music or spend the holidays on retreat in the quiet Catholic grounds. I still treasure the X’mas holidays I spent at Queen of Angels and Mount Angel Monastery near Portland, Oregon or Thich Nhat Hahn’s Deer Park Monastery near San Diego, California.
Like Chinese New Year, all the busy run around, dinners, shopping and gatherings turn me off. Other than the busy eating and chatters, festivities are unfortunately more conventions to observe rather than interact with the heart among families and friends. I remember Ajahn Chah, the Thai Forest Master, ridiculed people celebrating birthdays and mourning deaths when suffering begins at birth and ends when there is no more cycles of births and deaths. Birthdays, weddings or funerals are mere social conventions, but most people would abhor such thoughts.
For some years I fled to for retreats on X’mas or Chinese New Year holidays whether in US or Taiwan. I had spent Chinese New Year on a personal retreat at a Catholic Church in E. Taiwan, it was particularly meaningful because the church was built on a memorial site of Japanese-aborigine slaughter.
Though they have the largest and oldest manger in Taiwan, it was the peace of resurrection from revenge , free and easy after destroying hatred from the interfaith and culture relics that moved me to tears.
May we all have freeasy peace around the world at X’mas and every day! In particular may all Westerners in Beijing be safe and at peace !