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A Covid Christmas

Waiting belongs to the essence of Christmas. Advent calendars, letters to Santa, puddings tucked away in cupboards, gifts wrapped and hidden under Christmas trees—all our many rituals partake of a similar theme. Long ago when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to be the Mother of God—and she surrendered with perfect trust to that which she did not understand—the waiting which is Christmas began. 

Waiting has come into its own this year. Covid made it the theme for 2020. Waiting for restrictions to lift, waiting for the new rules, waiting for the prognosis when a loved one contracts the virus, waiting for a vaccine or a cure, waiting for the pandemic to end, waiting for normality to return. This stripped-down Covid Christmas—no parties, no extended family round the Christmas table, no late nights out in town—only highlights the waiting. 

Yet the space it opens up offers us the opportunity to contemplate deeply, to search into our hearts for that which we are REALLY waiting for. Waiting implies a dissatisfaction with the present moment, an awareness of something lacking. Rare is the person who can say they lack nothing, who is not waiting for something to materialise in the future.

The mystery of Christmas speaks to the core of this very human condition. Mary’s fiat came from a place of not-knowing but perfect trust. Her heart opened to the voice of divine spirit, and that total receptivity to other power transformed everything. With fullness not emptiness, she waited for the sacred  promise to come to fruition.  Even though she didn’t understand, she knew each present moment was perfect just as it was—no matter the tribulations—because divine spirit has a plan. And she trusted in its wisdom. 

Spirit still speaks from the quiet centre of every moment. It speaks to you and to me with the same message, just as it did to Mary: Do not be afraid! The Yoga tradition understands fear as the primary impediment to spiritual realisation. Called abhinivesa, it’s the fifth klesha, the five kleshas being the philosophical concept that defines ordinary mind. Abhinivesa generates avidya or spiritual ignorance. It’s the blindness that causes us to cling to the surface of things out of fear. It’s the dark veil that obscures our continuity with infinite light. 

Spirit governs the unfolding of time, and always will. It invites us to trust. With a simple change of heart, anxiety eases and joy exhilarates. Transformation begins with listening. In the silence, in the spaciousness, in the darkness of the long Christmas night—listen. “Be it done to me according to thy will” echoes the profoundest message of the Yoga Sutras. It is Ishvara-Pranidhana, which translates as devotion to the lord or surrender to the cosmic will. Patanjali is clear. The boon Ishvara-Pranidhana brings is samadhi, where the illusion of separation dissolves into transcendent  light.  

And so this is my Christmas wish for you, dear friend, and for myself as well (because human frailty certainly belongs to me).  May we, along with the Mother of God, join in that fiat and trust. May our waiting be infused with sublime joy, because we know, even though we don’t understand, that all is well, that no matter what, all will always be well. 

With so much gratitude to you my community of readers, all of you out there—Jyotish clients, yoga students, yoga friends, friends and family—I want to thank you for walking this path with me. Your presence sustains me, and I hope that I offer something to sustain you. But the bigger truth is that we are All sustained by something so much greater. May that realisation take seed in your heart this Christmas. May it grow and blossom into the undying flower that it is. 

May the peace, joy and love of Christmas be yours now and always! 
With love and blessings, 

Om shanti, 
Marianne ❤️

2 thoughts on “A Covid Christmas”

  1. Thank you Marianne, I will read this over & over again during Christmas, such a beautiful timely reminder of what it’s all really about. Happy Christmas to you and I hope we will get to spend time together in Sardinia in the summer.

  2. Thank you, Aoife, that makes me very happy. I’m hoping too that our retreat in Sardinia can happen this summer. It’ll be a great reunion for us after this extraordinary year! xx

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