Why am I obsessed with death at this time of year that is filled with such joy? I think it's because I am so very aware that our bodies begin to die at the moment of conception. What we do in the interim is what I believe creates the hereafter of our souls. It was while kneeling in church at the age of six contemplating the sweet baby Jesus that I had the realization that what I do to others affects Jesus's joy, just like what we children did to each other affected my parents' joy.
Unfortunately, the emphasis in my religion was on the guilt that we should carry for, not only our sins, but the sins of our ancestors. This guilt was fed with the constant reminder that Jesus died for our sins. How could a six-year-old be held responsible for sin? But we certainly were.
There is a custom in some Jewish practice that the afterlife consists in being wrapped in a glorious cloth of the good works that one performed in life. The teaching encourages the followers to be very careful of what kind of cloth they are weaving. This is one way to honor the interconnectedness of all of creation.
We seem to have gotten so focused on our individual relationships with a heavenly presence that we forget that we are put on earth to be valuable parts of creation. As we age, we are faced with a dilemma. How do we continue to be valuable?
The fact is that all physical resources are finite. If we hang onto life even when we become a drain on the resources so needed by those who come after us, what will we leave for them? People of faith espouse a belief in an afterlife of pure peace and joy, so we are we so afraid of "going to God?"
I think it is because of the focus on sin rather than on sharing. I firmly believe that Jesus's life was one of great joy, and that he was born to an observant Jewish family to be a mentor for mitzvah (living the commandments). I believe that part of his mitzvah was to show how much he was dedicated to his cause by allowing himself to be sacrificed. I don't believe that this was the most important event of his life on earth, but was probably necessary to make his point.
Christmas day is a time that I reflect on a life of thirty-three years lived completely and totally by the commandments. He admonished us throughout his short life to help one another. He left The Spirit of Eternal Mitzvah for us all to follow.
My Girl Scout laws included the promise to leave every place I visit better than I found it. I want to leave more good energy on this earth than I have received. I wish that there was a way to bequeath to my children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews the resources that I won't use if I let my body break down in the way that all of nature eventually disintegrates. This would be a present worth wrapping up and placing under the Christmas tree.