Christmas can intensify the strain and tears and defining disappointments in our relationships. Can this darker side of Christmas offer us a gift, too?

There’s an important reflection here. The Christmas miracle itself is about restoring the fundamental, existential relationship — between God and us. It happened in the dark of night. It was wrapped in dark mysteries and darker events of Herod’s cunning and the murder of innocents.

Yes, Christmas carries a heavy burden, historically and personally now, so here’s one way to look at the darkness which is integral to Christmastide.

There is deep beauty in the darkness, in the unknowing, in the indescribable, if only we can open ourselves to its purpose. Metaphorically, the dark emotions of grief, fear, and despair can be profound teachers and guides. . . . The primal howl of existential suffering holds within it the lesson that we all must learn at some time in our lives: To heal from our suffering—not merely to ease or palliate it, but to transform it into the source and substance of our growth and wisdom—requires a journey through it.... The art of spiritual companionship through the realm of the liminal can be learned, whether we are accompanying others or attending to our own souls.

From Rev. Richard Rohr, OFM, in “Dark Liminality.” Center for Action and Contemplation. April 28, 2020. Accessed 12/28/2020.

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