Wrestling With An Infant

It’s Christmas Eve and though it’s not my holiday, per se, Christmas in our culture is unavoidable. Especially for those of us with Christian families.


I cannot help but fall for the promise of peace that Christmas offers. Hope. 


I have been in dire need of hope this year. 


I struggle with the holiday season because Yule is not a thing for me. The Solstice is not part of my religion. Perhaps I avoid it because, for me, it’s too tainted with Wicca and Wiccanesque Paganism. It’s part of my identity to not be “one of those people” and so I avoid celebrating the Solstices and Equinoxes in my religion. 


That said, Christmas is a part of my culture. It was a very big part of my childhood. I have at least 10 years of memories of gathering at my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve. All of my aunts, uncles, great and not-so-great, various cousins first, second (removed or not). A cacophony of Italian-Americans. There would be lots of drinking and smoking. I would have to go outside to catch my breath. 


I do not believe in the divinity of Jesus but I hunger for hope.


Unfortunately, we have the perspective of history. We know where the birth of this child leads. We know, whether it’s his fault or not, that there will be generations of massacres in this baby’s name, the so-called Prince of Peace. We know that cultures and religious practices will be slaughtered.


I know that the pure heart of Mary will be used to force generations of girls into a purity culture where they are prized only for their virginity. 


And yet, in my religion….it is said by the Early Irish Christians that Brigid of Kildare was flown miraculously by angels to attend the birth of Christ and act as midwife. It is said that the baby Jesus suckled at Her breast. 


A folk tale? Perhaps. I cannot accept this as historically accurate but then I am a mystic, not a fundamentalist. 


Christianity did not come to Ireland under the sword. There must have been something the early converts saw in it. Perhaps they believed in the message Jesus taught, a radical message uplifting the poor, the hungry, the downtrodden and criticizing the rich. Even if later Christians would twist this message into tyranny. Perhaps they, too, believed in hope.


I want to believe. Not in Jesus. Not in Christianity. I want to believe that we can make this world a better place for those who are poor, hungry, homeless, down in spirit. I want to believe in radical hospitality. I want to believe that we can light Brighid’s Fire from our hearths to our hearts and extend that warmth and hospitality and sustenance to others.


In the most holy name of Brighid, may you find that fire within you and may you extend it to those in need of it.

~ by R.M. McGrath on 12/24/2019.

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