It used to be that the “work of heart” I most associated with Christmas was the Frank Capra movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” But ever since my friend Shanti Norman recorded John McCutcheon’s song, “Christmas in the Trenches” in 2000, I have held that extraordinary piece of work as best symbolizing the light that can shine in times of greatest darkness.
After World War I started in 1914, the Pope suggested a truce around Christmas time. The generals pursuing the war didn’t like this idea one bit, and in fact one of their concerns was that the enemy trenches were so close, that soldiers could hear the enemy speaking to their comrades, and even smell the food they were cooking.
What came to be known as the “Christmas truce” happened at a number of places along the front lines. As the song suggests, peace might have “broken out” due to soldiers hearing their enemies singing Christmas carols in their native tongue, and then joining in singing in two languages. As soon as the “enemy” was “re-humanized” after the dehumanization necessary to get ordinary humans to kill other ordinary humans, the trance was broken. In some cases, the trances lasted a day, in others three days. Despite this brief respite of sanity, the war continued nearly three more years, killing 18 million soldiers and civilians and wounding another 23 million.
Now more than a century later, America seems to be locked into another version of trench warfare. Thanks to social media and mainstream media fanning the flames of polarization, there are those talking about armed warfare on our own soil as we face the fundamental issue that has kept humans on the battlefield for millennia – the illusion of separation vs. the truth of oneness.
We seem to be “entrenched” in intractable positions, but the truth is more than three quarters of us would prefer to collaborate and cooperate. The challenge is to coalesce around the virtues and values 90% of us hold in common, and activate what we are calling our “sane and sacred center.”
To help us collectively address and break this trance of separation, I am pleased to have as my special Christmas week guest, Marianne Williamson.
Marianne Williamson is a bestselling author, political activist, and spiritual thought leader. She is the author of 14 books, four of which have been #1 New York Times best sellers. Here is a well-known quote from the mega best seller A Return to Love, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…”
Williamson founded Project Angel Food in 1989, a non-profit to help those suffering from the ravages of HIV/AIDS, and since that time has delivered more than 12 million meals to ill and dying homebound patients. She has advocated for reparations for slavery since the 1990’s and was the first candidate in the 2020 presidential primary season to make it a pillar of her campaign. In 2004, she co-founded The Peace Alliance and supports the creation of a U.S. Department of Peace. In addition, she advocates for a cabinet level Department of Children and Youth to adequately address the chronic trauma of millions of American children.
One of the most heartening aspects of Marianne’s 2020 Presidential campaign is that her message landed with some religious conservatives because it resonated with their religious notions of beloved community and care for creation. Can we move past polarizing cultural issues to find common ground? Can we move past the identity issues that have been used to separate us to addressing together the IDENTICAL ISSUES we all face – clean air, clean water, clean food, clean soil and clean government? Can we activate this new “moral majority” to use the Golden Rule to overrule the rule of gold?
Please join us for a heartening conversation.
To find out more about Marianne and her FREE end-of-the-year program, Forgiving and Releasing a Really Stressful Year, please go here.
Marianne’s Daily Lessons of A Course in Miracles
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon lyrics here.