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Every Day is a Holy Day

December 22, 2007 by Lightwaves

vanessa_fish1.jpgVanessa Fisher reflects on the meaning of Christmas and turns her break from University Studies into a sacred experience.

Curling up with a warm cup of tea in Sakti Villa, the Ashram’s old homestead building, I watch intently as showers of brilliant white snow pile in precarious heaps on the tree branches outside my window. As I view this winter wonderland unfolding before me, I feel an overflow of gratitude for the beauty of this time of year and for being able to be alive to enjoy it.

Choosing to spend my Christmas vacation on the sacred lands of Yasodhara Ashram has been a gift I have consciously given to myself for the past two years; a gift that offers me the chance to take a break from University life and revel in the warm and welcoming embrace of a community dedicated to the Light and divine company, as well as a reflective space in which to contemplate just what the holiday season really means to me. Outside of the rampant commercialism that bombards those who choose to dwell in the city during the Christmas season, I feel I have found a place of beautiful respite where the true meaning of holiday—”holy day”⎯ begins to fully come to life, in heart, mind and practice.

Of all the religious holidays we celebrate in the West, it is perhaps Christmas that has become the most deeply unanchored from its original roots in selfless praise and joyous religious observance. In the materialist atmosphere of our North American culture, where Christmas is often reduced to the acronym ‘Xmas’, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that our selfless joy for reverence and service is often forgotten and replaced with the stress of mall lineups and the financial burdens of gift giving. It seems that the ease with which this acronym has replaced Christ with an X might also reflect something much deeper about the way our culture often crosses out, or unconsciously dismisses, the deeper spiritual elements of our Christmas season.

temple_night.jpgBy choosing to come to the Ashram for the whole of December, I find myself glad to avoid the entire “Xmas” scene in the city, returning to Vancouver only after New Year’s, when the consumer frenzy has finally died down. Christmas spent at the Ashram offers me a chance to connect with my own religious roots in the Christian mystical tradition, as well as to celebrate the beauty of all devotional practices and ceremonies within the many mystical traditions of both East and West. My love for Christ, for Krishna, for Tara, comes through in the same single act of awareness that I practice as I clean the temple halls in preparation for Christmas satsang. My devotion to Mary, to Radha, to Allah, is reflected back to the world through my single intention to assist in making a delicious Christmas meal that can be enjoyed with everyone. At Yasodhara Ashram praise is not bound to one faith or one religious tradition; every religious occasion brings with it an opportunity to praise All.

What has also become increasingly clear to me through my time spent at the Ashram is that every day here is a “holy day”/holiday. Thus I feel when I arrive for the month of December that I am merely stepping into a practice of celebration and service that already permeates the everyday lives of those who live here, day to day. Normally we tend to divide up our experience into separate moments of “good” or “bad,” “pleasurable” or “unpleasurable,” much the same way that we divide our life events into “special activities” and “the rest of mundane life”. But at the Ashram, even mundane life is sacred and equal cause for celebration; thus, Christmas here is but one of the thousand opportunities offered to us to give thanks and show gratitude for life and for the divine.

It is the beauty of this lesson to not divide my reality into fragmented experience, but to see and praise the divine in all things continuously. That is the lesson I strive to take home with me when I return to the city after the holiday season has come to a close.

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  1. We had a very uncommercial Christmas this year, and enjoyed the day with several friends for a “planned potluck” dinner. What a pleasure it was! But a stay at the Ashram sounds even better.

    Comment by Nancy Galloway — December 28, 2007 @ 11:21 pm

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