Dec 23, 2011

Goodwill to all


Living in Australia, the dominant "celebration" in December is Christmas but we are not truly a Christian "church" family, though we enjoy a heavy sprinkle of Santa and Christian carols at this time of year. 

(Australians for the most part live happily in the strange paradox of summer Christmas with pine trees and fake snow and winter wonderland cards. November's favourite song at the moment is "I am dreaming of a White Christmas" - tell her she's dreaming alright...
This photo is from our Nippers Christmas Party - Santa arrived on a rubber ducky)

We are fascinated by Buddhism and really enjoyed hanging out with the monks as a family this year. Are we Buddhist? No, not really.


Death and existence
We are a spiritual family, and with the death of a close family member one week ago just 4 weeks after his diagnosis, there has been a lot of talk of death, and what comes after. He was a person of open-heart and generous nature who did not believe in God. There wasn't a church service or burial, a mention of reunions in a better place etc, but a vibrant musical gathering of friends and family.

For the four of us, we needed to talk through and feel our own sense or belief in the transformation after death. Strange how this has segued into beliefs of Santa Claus, and the impossibility of an invisible life on the North Pole, the questioning of the existence of elves versus the reality of dwarves and midgets.


Finding a sense of belief
November (and Mike as leader) joined Cub Scouts this year and happily avowed

CUB SCOUT PROMISE

On my honour
I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to my God, and
To Australia
To help other people, and
To live by the Cub Scout Law

although November chose the more traditional pledge to our Queen:
On my honour
I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to my God, and
To the Queen of Australia
To help other people, and
To live by the Cub Scout Law

Mike is a firm republican, but November loves the idea of royalty, and who wouldn't when they were 8? even though Horrible Histories has already alerted her to the fickleness of monarchs such as Henry VIII...

I really like the Scouts Australia approach to spirituality - it isn't religious, or focussed on differences in faith, but on the unity of belief - in the "something else". 

Nature as Creator
For November at the moment, her God is Mother Nature as she believes that a religion "shouldn't be based on teachings from a book but from reality". It feels to me that she has identified with Aboriginal people's profound connection to the land. 
I admire that,
though my own version is a little different : )

July is just working hard to prove Santa exists.

Mike? Well, he has certainly identified as pagan back in his day : ) perhaps in the same way some time ago I regularly read from spiritual texts of Islamic and Hindu faiths. 

As a family, we are certainly a spiritual work in progress...


December as festival
Looking at the Interfaith Calendar I saw Islamic, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Pagan, even Zoroastrian sacred holidays featured in December 2011. I am sure that almost every faith would be represented in the Summer/WInter Solstice period. In our part of the world, I wonder what the Bundjalung people ascribe this time of year - turtle season? Bush Turkey? Wild raspberry harvest?


Celebration
So how do we celebrate? 

This year, we've already had Christmas drinkies with friends here before the 25th, and on the day we'll be opening presents, lighting homemade candles, feasting on sumptuous food (including my home made gluten free Christmas cake and panforte and almond biscuits and trifle and custard!), and thanking the free range turkey. 

How will you be celebrating?

Our thoughts go out to you and yours - goodwill, hope, and peace to all! Happy New Year!

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