Provision #596: O Holy Night

Laser Provision

There is, in life, a Spirit worth celebrating. Many traditions call us to celebration, especially at this time of year. But we don’t have to wait for a special occasion. It’s possible to see and to appreciate the beauty of life in good times and bad. That is the call of this Provision. If I had but one holiday wish come true, it would be that we put on the glasses of faith. Not the faith of a particular religion, but the faith that looks at life and calls it good. Will you join me in this adventure? Read on to appreciate its nature and scope.

LifeTrek Provision

On Wednesday night, December 24, Christians around the world will be celebrating the Eve of Jesus’ birth. On that occasion, many English-speaking Christians will be singing the well-known Christmas carol, “O Holy Night.” The words, originally written as a French poem by Placide Cappeau, were set to music in 1847 by Adolphe Adam and translated into English in 1855 by Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight. Quite apart from your theology, Christian or otherwise, the English hymn calls attention to the sacredness of life. Consider the first verse:

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

What an intriguing turn of phrase! The world was pining away, in sin and error, until • in one Holy Night • the Spirit felt its worth. No wonder the weary world rejoices with a thrill of hope: it is a most amazing thing to be deemed worthy.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever felt unworthy, unclean, and unlovable only to be forgiven, loved, and accepted right where you are and just the way you are? Think back to when you did something wrong as a child. Do you remember your relief when your parents finally decided to let it go? Think back to when you had a conflict with a loved one, a coworker, or a friend. Do you remember your happiness when you were finally able to bury the hatchet and reconcile your differences? That’s what Christians sing about on Christmas Eve. It’s the movement of God to make all things holy.

That is, of course, the way things have always been. The Spirit did not suddenly feel the worth of creation on one particular night about 2,000 years ago. From the beginning, the Spirit looked at the world, all things made and unmade, and called it good. The world has always been holy, it has always been forgiven, accepted, and loved by God (or whatever you prefer to call the life-giving energy), and it will always be so.

Unfortunately, we don’t always recognize that sweet goodness. When we do, however, it is truly a night divine. That’s what the poet saw so long ago and that’s what we can see today if we but give ourselves permission to see things that way.

How much easier it is to see the world as a God-forsaken place! You don’t need my coaching for that. Just surf the web, turn on the television, or pick up the latest newspaper. The planet is seething with violence, hatred, catastrophe, and despair. Scientists tell us that climate change may have already past the point of no return. Wars, insurgencies, and terrorism abound. Increasing numbers of people suffer from either starvation or obesity. The food supply is largely unhealthy and unreliable. The global economic meltdown shows no signs of stopping. How in the world then, you might ask, are we supposed to see and to celebrate the sacredness of life?

Good question. Aren’t we supposed to reject and condemn all this nonsense as unworthy, unclean, and unlovable? Aren’t we supposed to call it evil and wash our hands of the entire mess? Aren’t we supposed to push back against the bad guys, denying their humanity, rights, and capacities in the process?

I hope you can see, by the way I asked those questions, that the answer is no. God doesn’t see the world that way and neither should we. The more we come from a win-lose, right-wrong, good-bad, not-now, us-them mentality, the more harm we will do both to human relations and to a planet in peril. To quote Dorothy Day, “An eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth make for a sightless and toothless world.” Until we learn to stop our striving and to start our seeing things will appear desperate indeed.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can learn to see the perfection in every situation, even when it’s obviously not perfect. That’s what the Spirit did when the Spirit felt the worth of life so long ago. It looked past the obvious sin and error of the world (thanks to Jesus, Christians believe) in order to see the hidden sacredness and goodness of life. It’s there, all the time, if we choose to see it. And if the Spirit can do that, we can too.

That is the call of this season, and of every season, regardless of one’s faith, tradition, culture, or orientation. It is to become more fully alive by celebrating and appreciating the best of what is. And the best is always there if we look beyond the fault to see the need.

The journey of life from the first bang to the latest hurrah has been a dance of needs. Some needs know no reason, such as the physicalities of energy, space, and time. Other needs are all about reasons, as we try to justify the things we want and do. “I need you to…” or “I need them to…” are familiar refrains. And yet they usually send us down the wrong path. Like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, there’s no coming back once we decide that someone or something “needs” to do something. We end up in the push-pull of getting them to do what we want, and in the judgment seat when things don’t go our way.

No wonder it’s so hard to see the sacredness of life! By confusing needs with strategies and wants we end up in a downward spiral of bossiness and bitterness. The Spirit, fortunately, shows us another way. It felt the worth of the situation while we were yet sinners. It didn’t wait for everything to be obviously wonderful. It simply came, in the moment, and called the moment good.

That’s my holiday message and wish for those of you who are reading this Provision: feel the worth of the season. Feel the worth of life. Celebrate the beauty of the needs. Appreciate the stirrings of the Spirit. Do that and the dire headlines will fade from view. Do that, and all will be well with your soul.

Coaching Inquiries: What can you celebrate this holiday season? How are your needs expressing themselves? How can you become more sensitive and aware? Who can help you relax and see the beauty of the moment?

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LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..

Thanks for the wisdom and good advice in your last Provision. Thrivalism indeed! It is good to be connected.

As I was reading your last Provision, two friends popped into my head • and I said – they need to read this as well. So I forwarded it to them and encouraged them to subscribe.

You are so so generous to take the time to share this wonderful information with the world – thank you. I get so so many newsletters just to keep up with things — mostly, I open them, read the first two lines and delete them quickly – no value – just reading the same thing over and over again. 

When a newsletter is just trying to sell me something or one that someone bought from a service and just put their name on it – I turn off so quickly. When I am learning something of value – I turn on!! I have not started my own newsletter yet, but have plans to do it in 2009 and hope that I can offer value to my readers as you have. Thanks for modeling the way.

I have been in your Wellcoaches classes for the past three months. I know this is only the beginning for me with wellness coaching but I wanted to let you know you have truly helped me to grow and helped me feel I am in a position to contribute to making a significant difference in the world even through presence and •being•, not to mention with coaching. Thanks for that wonderful opportunity! Wishing you a joyful holiday season.  

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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