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Christmas and the Name of the Cleaning Lady

Just before his Christmas break, a student was taking his philosophy test. He finished all the questions except the very last one.

That question was totally unexpected. It was, “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

The student thought it was a joke. He remembered seeing the lady a number of times. He could describe her: tall, with dark hair and probably in her fifties. He had smiled at her two or three times, but he didn’t know her name or why he should.

He handed in this test paper and left the answer to that question blank. Another student in the class asked the instructor if the question would affect the test grades. The professor replied, “Absolutely.”

He went on to explain the reason the question was important. He told the students, "In your life, you will meet many people. Each one of them is significant. You can smile at them and say, ‘Hello.’ Show some interest and ask them their name, who they are, their story and how each of them is special. Along the way, you may learn much more than you think.”

The student never forgot those words he heard during that Christmas season. He also learned that the lady’s name was Rose.

That student was reminded of one of the reasons we celebrate Christmas, as well as all the Holy Days. We are all vessels of the Christ presence and represent the light that illuminates every man and woman that comes into the world.

Moreover, the Christmas story is symbolic of the spiritual awareness that can take place for each person, our nation and our world. But we must be receptive to it.

Today, more than ever, there is a need for that receptivity. There is a sense of urgency in America and the planet. We are faced with the choice of either a heightened sense of separation and divisiveness or greater transformation.

The Christmas story gives us clues on how to respond to the challenges we face, individually and collectively. The key is found in the word responsibility. It means just that – our “response ability.”

Many on the spiritual path have been reading the same books, listening to talks about spiritual principles and studying the same ideas. At some point, we realize that we are not going to hear anything we don’t already know. Rather, we are to access that which we know more deeply.

After all, we don’t say, “I’m not going to a Christmas service because I already know what happened on Christmas.” Neither is someone from the Jewish tradition going to say, “I’m not going to Passover Seder this year because I know the story.”

It’s not that the story is different each year. It’s that, each year, we become different (hopefully). So the point is not the tale of Christmas, rather, the point is how much of ourselves we bring to the story. How receptive are we to it, so that it can transform us?

The need for spiritual awareness and personal transformation matters now more than ever. We have the gift to see the light in ourselves and all we meet. That professor sought to remind his students of this by asking that question on the test.

We have the choice to see the light of God in everyone and be the light of God in our own lives. As we fully embody that truth and bring it to our world, we live out the meaning of the Holy Season not only during December, but every day of our lives.

Peace and Blessings,


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