A Christmas Story: a tribute to the diversity of tolerant and peace loving Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus.

24.12.2012 - Toronto - Jorge van Schouwen

This post is also available in: French

According to legend the Christian world celebrates December 25th as that special moment when the divine and the earthly connect for an eternal instant.  It’s the moment of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. It tells of a modest birth in a remote village in the fringes of a pagan Empire. The story tells us that the racially diverse Magi follow a star and bring their special presents some days later on January 6th. The story of Jesus of Nazareth progresses slowly at first but then travels sometimes darkened or lightened to all latitudes at times pausing on that humble carved chair in the Geneva Cathedral where Calvin sat and preached of fortunes to be made. Sometimes it loudly knocked at a Church door under the hammer of the rebellious Luther and it is even said that sometimes it stops and glows at that magnificent throne under the gentle frescoes of Michelangelo.

Sometimes it’s born again in shivers under powerful TV cameras. It’s also said that sometimes it flows and perfects itself through humble and impoverished villagers and missionaries struggling elbow to elbow for Justice and Human Rights far away from the wealthy and powerful.

The Christian hour-glass drops it’s first grain of sand launching the beginning of their recorded time over 2000 years ago.

Most of the Jewish world finally back in the solace of their historical lands acknowledge the birth of one of their own. A “teacher” who was erudite, rebellious, peace loving and whose only historical trace may be possibly found in that brief oblique mention by Josephus that most ancient of “bloggers”. Historians and Anthropologists will have to decide whether Jesus Christ ever truly shared his modest rations of fish and bread or if He simply embodied the continuation of those wonderful stories of virgin births occurring around December 25th sinceancient times in diverse cultures.

The Jewish hour-glass dropped it’s first grain of sand over 5700 years ago.

The Muslim world in all of its glorious, loving and sometimes stern mosaic acknowledges the birth of one of their more senior prophets. A historical prophet born in their adoptive lands some hundreds of years before their most magnificent Prophet Muhammad. It’s according to an ever voluble script that an angel by the name of Gabriel gently blows some special words into the ear of their grand Prophet.  The continuation of the story of Jesus Christ in the Middle East and the rest of the world is assured and rapidly told as part of their own story specially in the alleyways of ancient and tolerant Toledo.

The Muslim hour-glass dropped it’s first grain of sand over 1400 years ago.

As part of this Christmas story I must mention a wonderful anecdote I was told by my dearly departed colleague and friend Rajeshwar Singh. It speaks of religious celebrations by modest Hindu peasants in the mountains of Kashmir.

As Rajeshwar told me in his trademark amenable way this story took place many years ago when He was a junior Government employee. He was officially sent on a most unpopular duty. He had the mission to explain, register and convince rural Hindus in the Kashmir region about the benefits of paying tax to the newly independent India. He reached that remote region towards the end of December slightly concerned for his safety but instead He found a celebration in full swing. The villagers had gathered to celebrate once again around the resting place of one of their adopted sons. According to legend even though Jesus Christ had been born in a far way land He had decided to spend his more mature and final days in Kashmir together with his wife and children. The villagers were
very proud that such a wonderful Holy man had chosen the Kashmir as his final resting place.

The Hindu hour-glass dropped it’s first grain of sand so long ago in ancestral time that not even old Rajeshwar could remember for certain.

Gently wondering and enjoying these stories in all their diversity and tolerance I couldn’t help myself but join all my Christian, Jew, Muslim and Hindu friends in celebrating the Christmas story. A story full of peace, tolerance, miracles and joy.

Merry Christmas to you dear Rajeshwar in whatever time and space you are probably re-telling this story of virgin re-encarnation!.

Categories: Humanism and Spirituality, Opinions

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