On January 6 the holiday season is officially over, time to wrap up all that joy, that harmony, all that good cheer and bless us everyone once and for all: or is it. January is just the beginning of another long year of opportunities to celebrate our humanity together, to be joyful and in harmony at almost any time.
I love all the holidays, all the moments we as humans create to catch a taste of the sacred and make life special. No culture seems to have a lock on that idea and every culture has a variety of ways in which to attempt to capture the true feelings of special connection to that unnamable something holy. After a lifetime of study, I finally get it, that the taste of divine we look for in those outer celebrations is really inside each of us. I have tasted the profundity of it enough times to know this. I also see that very often it is so much easier to taste that divine presence in the company of others, together in community.
So I invite everyone to seek out the opportunity to share a special moment throughout the year. Find a festival or sacred holiday not of your own lineage to participate in. In January, we still have Epiphany, Armenian Christmas, Orthodox New Year, Tu B’Shevat a Jewish holiday celebrating the New Year for trees and a Punjabi holiday called Lohri involving a bonfire. Lighting a fire is common to many winter celebrations when we are most yearning for light.
Even if there is no holiday available on the horizon we can always commune with each other in respect and love and joy. I just heard last week of a study that determined that people traveling on public transportation absorbed in the bubble of their devices are less happy than those who engage in conversation with their companions. The trip goes faster and leaves the participants more satisfied at the end of it. So have a conversation, laugh, joke and enjoy.
Celebrating each other is more important now that it has ever been before. I am talking about celebrating difference, diversity, strangeness and that which is not our way. So much delight can be found in stretching ourselves to embrace something that we don’t quite understand. As an offering in this light, I invite you to watch this 5-minute short video that I directed a dozen years ago. New York City Spirit is a brief celebration of the diverse ways that New Yorkers connect to God during the course of any ordinary day.