A New Christmas Practice
Ten years ago, during my studies for a theological degree at a Catholic university, a very interesting word became a part of my vocabulary. Its meaning was well-known to me – emptying – but the beauty of the word made me pay way more attention. “Kenosis” came to have special meaning for the many years following. To this day it is something that has become a habit, even though there are times that I must admit to resisting.
The word, as described by an online source, means “In Christian theology, kenosis (Greek: κένωσις, kénōsis, lit. emptiness) is the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.” Anyone who reads this blog with any frequency will know that we do not proselytize. What we do is to lay a buffet of ideas, thoughts, perspectives and even stories and invite you our readers to come and take whatever you want or need. If nothing interests you, that too is okay. This conversation on emptying is a post-series one, as we ended an emptiness series last month, but it is also relevant to the holiday season. I will explain how in a bit.
Emptying Versus Emptiness
Kenosis is unlike the emptiness discussed in the series as then we were covering the issues of:
- Losing a child and the emptying feeling that comes with that. Read “My Baby Died: How Do I Go On?” for more on that experience and how to cope.
- The emptiness children can experience when a parent is absent from their lives. Read “Filling The Dad-Sized Hole In Your Life” for our Contributor’s story on that.
- Emptiness: Sign of Emotional Trauma highlights a possible cause of that emptying feeling.
- Psychological condition of depression was discussed in the last post, “Depression And Emptiness: My Story.” Check it out and see the difference between a clinical condition and this discussion of emptying.
As I have stated on my Facebook page, debates about the reason or meaning of the (Christmas) season is not one that I am going to engage in. In last week’s roundup post, my current understanding and how Christmas is lived out in my life was clearly stated: “In my books, Christmas is way more about fostering that spirit of welcome, helping others to give birth to their best selves, giving and sharing.” Read the full post here and share your thoughts in the comments below it.
Now days away from Christmas, the question and challenges of self-emptying arose. I wondered about all the people who observe the season as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus – to whatever degree that they do. I also wondered about the people who will not be with their families, however large or small, this Christmas. After all, it is a time like no other that highlights the joys of being in the cradle of family. The commercialization of Christmas has been debated forever. I am not necessarily joining in on that. It is hard though not to consider how many celebrating, shopping, decorating and making meals have or will stop to think that Jesus was more about emptying himself to the will of his Source and not filling up on the luxuries of his time.
Self-Emptying – A Daily Practice
If you are one of the millions who has a “reason for the season,” my question to you is – “Does that reason include emptying yourself of stuff, negative thoughts, greed of any kind, and feelings of hatred?” As I write this, my thoughts are focussed on my life and how I have celebrated the last few Christmases and how this one will be observed. Will I be emptying myself and being in the service of what is sacred to me?
Self-emptying is not just something we do once and forget about it. The idea of letting go, which is another way of speaking of emptying, is a subject important to us here that we have a section dedicated to it. Check it out for the collection of posts and infographics we have on letting go, emptying and living life to the fullest.
That is exactly what emptying does actually – allow you to fill up on life. While shopping, decorating, giving and receiving gifts at Christmas are wonderful activities that brings much pleasure to both you and those receiving your generosity, if done with a heart that is self-serving and/or caught up with worrying about the bills after Christmas – what is the point?
So, my challenge to you this year, over the next few days and beyond – whether you are Christian or hold some other belief – try emptying yourself of all the:
- “Must do’s” because it’s Christmas
- “Have to get” because it’s on sale
- “House has to be totally renovated before family comes over so they see we are doing okay!”
- “Will serve only the best meats and delicacies for dinner to impress everyone that we are bountiful”
- “That outfit is a must if they are to see my beauty!”
How about doing as some interpret Jesus to have done and emptying yourself of the need to bedazzle others this holiday season? Withdraw your luminosity (brightness, brilliance, greatness) from grandiose public display and instead let your Light shine within and serve to brighten the life of others either gathered around your table or as you meet them along the way this Christmas?
Could you do that? How do you see yourself doing that in practical terms? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below and do consider joining this community to take part in conversations not had here, as well as receive my monthly newsletter that includes an affirmation poster. Be sure to also follow me on Twitter as well as like my Facebook page and receive more posts, inspiration and thought-provoking quotes throughout the day.
Be blessed and be a blessing this and everyday!