Neale Donald Walsch, the author of the Conversations With God series has summed up Christmas in a beautiful way.  This week I would like to share his post.  I couldn’t  have said it better:

I couldn’t sleep last night.

I was up from 2 until 6, having another one of my Conversations with God.

“Tell me about Christmas,” I said. “What is it really all about?”

And I heard, “What do you mean, what is it really all about? I’ve told you a million times what it’s all about.”

So I said, “Tell me again. I think I may have missed it.”

And suddenly my head was filled with a Christmas Carol – one of the happiest and most triumphant of all the melodies of Christmas.

“Joy to the world,” the song began, “the Lord has come.” But I couldn’t get into it. I kept wondering, what is joyful about the coming of someone who is going to be a lord over us?

God! I said…I don’t understand this! And God replied, “You’re right. You don’t.”

Then God said, “But at least you’re asking a question. And that’s good. It’s really hard to understand something if you think there are no more questions to ask. You can’t be given an answer if you think you already have the only answer there is.”

“Well, I don’t have the answer,” I admitted. “So what’s the answer?”

And God said, “The answer is that the Lord….who has come….is not a lord over you, but in you.” These words came to me at 2:57 this morning, and I pondered them in my heart.

“Then,” I ventured, “the Christmas season is not just a remembering of the birth of a Babe. It is also a celebration of the birth of the Christed one in all of us.” And God answered softly, “yes.”

And then I wondered what all the songs, and all the messages, and all the feelings of Christmas would mean if I accepted this truth. If I really understood that the gift of Christmas is us, fully expressed and fully realized. It is us — completely willing and totally ready — to love without condition, to give without restriction, to share without limitation, to create without fear, to celebrate ourselves without shame or embarrassment.

It is us, choosing to forgive without hesitation, to help without being asked, to rush in where angels fear to tread.  Indeed, to lead the way for angels.

Ah, to lead the way for angels. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we’ve come to the Earth. To be a herald! Hark! The herald, angels sing. Glory to the newborn king.

At this moment we can give birth to the royalty within us…the royalty that we are in God’s eyes. The Magic of Christmas is that it gives us permission to take the feeling of love and share it with all those whose lives we touch.

With friend, and with stranger. With those who agree with us, and with those who disagree. With those who look and act like us, and with those who do not. We are invited today to feel this love, and to give it permanent place within our heart. To be the source of peace on Earth, and goodwill toward men and women everywhere.

We are invited to walk the Earth not only as one who is blessed, but as one who blesses. Not only as the Lord of the manner, but in the manner of the Lord.

For we are the lord of our inner kingdom, and thus, of the outer one as well. And when we understand that, everything changes. We begin to create a world in which all is calm. All is bright. Joy to the world! The Lord has come. Let Earth receive her King.  Let every heart… prepare him room. And heaven, and nature, sing!

Joyfully, Neale.


Are Humans by Nature Compassionate or Competitive?

“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt

As the parent of an ice hockey player and a lacrosse player, I have often thought about the contrast in behavior between sports and what I normally encourage in my kids.  I have always encouraged them to share, but during the game, parents are yelling for them to “Fight for the puck!”  I have taught my boys to avoid violence, but during the game, it is “Push him out of bounds!” There is a different aspect of our human nature that comes out during sports which I have become curious about.  What is it about competition that changes behavior or are we by nature, competitive?

When I think about competition I think about ‘survival of the fittest.’  Only the best team will make it to the playoffs, so it is important to take down the opponent in order to win.  This led me to Charles Darwin, but I was surprised to learn that Darwin didn’t use that term at all!  In his book The Descent of Man, Darwin argued that sympathy is what leads a species.  Charles Darwin states, “In however complex a manner this feeling may have originated, as it is one of high importance to all those animals which aid and defend one another, it will have been increased through natural selection; for those communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.”  He noted that sympathy, what we would call compassion or altruism today, is the highest moral virtue.  He predicted that our human evolution will be extending compassion to all people, animals and sentient beings.  He used as examples people who risked their own lives to save people they didn’t know.  Darwin wrote, “Looking at Man, as a Naturalist would at any other mammiferous animal, it may be concluded that he has parental, conjugal and social instincts…these instincts consist of a feeling of love or benevolence to the object in question…such active sympathy that the individual forgets itself, and aids and defends and acts for others at his own expense.” This doesn’t sound like sports at all!

Edward O. Wilson, expanded upon this in his book The Meaning of Human Existence.  Wilson states, “Within groups, selfish individuals beat altruistic individuals, but groups of altruists beat groups of selfish individuals.”  He explained that when we are individually selfish, we try to beat out the competition within our group.  Eventually that weakens the group down to one person who is the ‘winner.’  He compared that to groups who effectively work together.  A group of people who aid and defend each other strengthens the entire group.  When a group of people who are altruists meets a group who is selfish, the group that functions as a team has an advantage.  It does go back to the saying, ‘There is no ‘I’ in team.’  We all need to work together to accomplish our goal.

While I am still working to reconcile the lack of altruism in the competition of sports teams, what I do know is that playing sports is an opportunity for my kids to work together as a team and to see the benefits of cooperation.  When they are encouraging each other on the team and working together they have a much better season.  Perhaps a sports team is a microcosm of our world.  What would happen if we all realized that the entire human race is on the same team?  By separating ourselves into small teams, whether it be by country, political affiliation, race or religion we are like the individuals that weaken a team by acting selfishly.  We are weakening ourselves by separating out and missing the opportunity for altruism towards mankind.  Maybe now is the time for us to evolve into Darwin’s ‘survival of the kindest’ idea.