I met Santa the other Saturday. It was an unexpected and most extraordinary meeting. This Santa was a she and appeared slim as though she takes care of herself. She wore makeup and colourful glass beads around her neck. Her hair was styled and silver. She had winter walking boots and pulled a little cart behind her.
I had just finished work and after a quick trip to the bank Carlie and I were ready for a little walk in the snow – a reward for waiting patiently and quietly. We came out of the credit union and crossed the street to sniff the snow when I noticed Santa crossing the street toward us. She greeted us cheerily and then said, “I don’t like to see litter everywhere, so I need to go pick that up.”
I followed her gaze and saw the garbage in the corner of the church property. I told her, “wow, how kind of you to do that. Thank you.” I watched her pick up the garbage, using her little cart for support. Carlie and I continued around the block, casually sniffing every new spot.
We were coming around the last corner and heading towards my car and I saw “Santa” again. She was again bending over, picking up other people’s garbage. No one was paying any attention to what she was doing probably because it looked like the behaviour of a homeless person, weeding through garbage to scavenge something of value for themselves. But, here as Santa, with makeup and a glass bead necklace, she was picking up our garbage. This was her gift to the community. She was picking up the plastic, the paper, the bow and tie, the knickknacks that others decided not to be responsible for in the end. Her cart was full, with ‘stuff’ people throw away because they have too much ‘stuff’.
My heart skipped a beat – what an incredible sight. She wasn’t asking to be noticed. She loved her community. She loved the ‘home’ where she lived, our Mother Earth. As Carlie and I were walking right past her, I wondered what I could offer to acknowledge this elderly, unassuming, beautiful spirit. I had no money in my pocket, only a mid-size glass marble of Mother Earth I carry around with me in my coat pocket. Carlie and I stopped, and I said “and here we are again, meeting each other. I’m not sure if this will be of value to you, but I would like to offer you this Earth marble.” (It was quite beautiful with the oceans and all the continents on it).
She took the marble, looked at it and with her eyes shining bright, she exclaimed, “why yes, I would value it very much. Thank you.” Carlie and I continued, but as I moved to keep walking, I noticed her spin the marble in her hand, look at it again and then put it in her pocket. She resumed picking up other people’s garbage.
In these two brief encounters I felt gifted and blessed. Watching her take something we hold rather dear in our culture, Santa Claus, and turn him into a ‘her’ and into a servant leader, modeling to the generations of those who are younger than her, how to care for our home, our Mother Earth, if we would only pause to see.
In her way of being, she embodied the fruits of the spirit, the essentials of any active and genuine spirituality:
- She had learned to loved self and others, regardless of what they had done or not done. Her engaging smile and eyes expressed more than words may ever communicate.
- Her body rhythms were smooth, gentle and methodical. She carried no air of resentment, as one who practises forgiveness.
- She freely practised kindness, indeed, random acts of kindness.
- She recognized the sacred, especially the sacred essence of our home, our community, our Earth.
- She was gracious and grateful for the attention and gift offered her, but she would have offered this service to her community regardless. There was no display of craving attention for her deed. She was Santa serving the good.
- She had the wisdom that doing good helps us feel good, deeply satisfied, even if it is picking up garbage and even when others may not see the good we do.
- And finally, she served her community with joy, even in picking up their garbage. She dedicated her Saturday to a purpose larger than her own satisfaction alone. What vision of a beautiful planet must she have that she is so committed to even on a winter’s afternoon?
Whatever your cultural or religious holiday might be this season, I invite you to consider engaging in something which offers your community a gift of kindness, love, joy, peace, vision, wisdom and generosity. Take a familiar symbol of the season and turn it on its head. Instead of the cultural norms of power and fantasies of spiritual magic, disguised as excess consumption in these symbols, turn them upside down.
If you were Santa this year, what kind of Santa would you be? What gift would you bring? Does this ‘gift’ heal or harm? Who really will be responsible for the gift you give? The Earth? Our water? You? Or the Receiver?
This past 6 weeks, I have met people like this who have inspired me in a new way. From water walkers, to a servant Santa, to those surrendering to a living/loving Higher Power because it’s the only way they can find freedom from their addictions. What new inspirations and aspirations to serve from your heart do you want to share in 2018? Let’s re-commit to making this life, this world a better place for us and those beings to come. Let peace begin with us.
May you and your families be well and happy. May you be peace-filled and sufficiency. May you be safe, healthy and live joyously, with just enough bravery to turn ‘normal’ upside down. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays and Joy to the World. Namaste,