Do the woods know it’s Christmas Eve? Do the trees have a clue? Do the chattering chickadees know that it’s a holy night? And how would we know anyway?
Now before you scoff and insist, “the woods! are you crazy? this is a human celebration!” I ask you to pause and consider. After decorating one of the baby spruce trees with ornaments and considering the photo opportunities, I ventured off into the woods in about a foot of fluffy snow. That question kept surfacing, repeating itself like a mantra: Does the forest know it’s Christmas Eve?
So what might be a good definition of Christmas Eve? Would it be a feeling of sacredness, of holiness, of stillness? Would it be a hush, a silence, an awareness beyond the Everyday?
For humans, would this holiness translate as a feeling that inspires us into a deep appreciation of the preciousness of Life and all that it entails? Would it be a momentary silencing of our incessant thoughts? And a deep inner soul-knowing that we are more than our limited understanding, more than what we can see, more than what our thoughts can reveal? That the world is infinite and glorious, and that there exists a dimension beyond our finiteness that might provide hope, teaching, love and joy?
We humans all have different definitions of the sacred. Yet what exists in the woods, in the spaces of trees and wildlife and snow and earth, often brings us to an inner stillness and connection with something beyond ourselves. Something holy. Something sacred. Something magnificent. The very rawness of nature sometimes transports us. It carries us into the arms of something larger.
People call that “something larger” many different names. On Christmas Eve, in a stable long ago, a baby birthed that ignited that sacred feeling in many people. Other traditions have birthed other beings that lit fires of love and connection in other humans. We sometimes argue which tradition is “true”, but the spirit of Christmas Eve might be described as a hush where we recognize the sacred in All Things.
I proposed the forest does know it’s Christmas Eve. The woods lives in the spirit of that sacred hush and carries the ability to transport us into holy moments, 365 days a year. All days are sacred. The woods knows that. It’s wiser than we suspect.