The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Friday, December 22, 2006

Do They know It's Christmas?

It's Christmas time,
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmas time,
We let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty
We can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world
At Christmas time

But say a prayer,
Pray for the other ones
At Christmas time it's hard,
But when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window,
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them
Instead of you

And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?

Here's to you raise a glass for everyone
Here's to them underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?

Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmas time

This is one of my favourite Christmas songs. Penned by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1984 to raise money and increase awareness of Ethiopian famine, its tune is catchy and its medley of famous voices a pure delight. But it was only a few days ago that I got hold of the lyrics. And my heart broke.

I love Christmas. I love putting up the tree, choosing gifts, coming home to a house filled with the aroma of freshly baked cookies and the works. I knew not everyone shares the same memories but to think that some people's worlds forever remain untouched by Christmas was unfathomable. I pictured families with little children waking up on the morning of December 25th and going about their daily back-breaking work, unaware that they were living through the most beautiful day of the year. I thought of the destitute, the sick and the elderly who lie alone on this glorious morning, while the rest of the world celebrates in blissful oblivion.

I felt overwhelming sadness. I felt helplessness. I felt I had to do something, anything. Then I remembered Auntie May.

Auntie May would be celebrating Christmas alone. She has no immediate family. She has no friends. She has no memory of what happened five minutes ago. She would be living Christmas in the darkness of her mind and the emptiness of her heart.

I didn't have to go halfway across the world to open my heart. This year, Auntie May will be celebrating Christmas with us.


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