Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Belated Turkey Day

I had toyed with then idea of playing the Grinch – not that it would be that far out of character. Though, if I were to be green ... Shrek – the ogre – seems more fun; given that Shreck is one of our surnames, there might even be a family connection. Being part Irish, there is little doubt I have a bit of the leprechaun.

Hum? Is it kosher for an Grinchish crossbreed ogre-leprechaun to eat turkey? Well, what’s done is done. Which brings me back to where I was going, or thought I was going before I distracted myself. I think I was going to do something on obesity ...

This is the season for food and presents – often candy, as every child knows, clearly an essential food group this time of year. The latter is recognized on Hallowe’en; then comes Thanksgiving and we rally get to pig out. We then have the seemingly random appearance of Hanukkah – which is fixed in a 360 day lunar calendar – where we have more candy, food and Hanukkah gelt. What could be nicer, candy, food and money – none of those neckties nobody wears, or the kids clothes from aunt Tilly that the kids would be seen dead in, money to spend as you want ... it seems so civilized. It is a bit amusing, about 2165 years of celebrating the fact that gelled oil at the bottom of lamps – what we call napalm – burns about as well as its liquid equivalent.
Somewhere in relation to Hanukkah we have the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and the anniversary of the 1620 arrival of the Separatists – who, in the 1800's, we renamed Pilgrims. Now there we have real fundamentalist Christianity, people who declared, in part: “separation from a Church is necessary if only one man convicted of evil be allowed to remain in fellowship, that the parochial assemblies are false churches.” 120 arrived on American shores to populate a region. It is worth noting that the Pilgrims are different from the Puritans – who arrived several decades earlier and had some really interesting customs which they attributed to scriptural interpretation. None of that “forgiveness” stuff – you’re convicted of evil and you’re out of the community. Try to sell that to “conservatives”.

Of course, the holidays mark both end and rebirth – a resurrection and renewal. The end of the solar year, its rebirth, the resurrection and renewal of life; the death of a sacred light, which continued to burn for eight days before its resurrection and rebirth; a birth of one remembered for his end, resurrection and renewal of faith. We celebrate the end, continuation and beginning. We also celebrate the beginning, continuation and end. We celebrate the continuation of life – and so we eat.

While we eat, we might wonder: “What else at do all these things have in common?

It might best be answered by the letters/words on the four sided top, the dreidel – the Hanukkah toy. Each letter a word, in English, "A great miracle happened there". Be it the safe arrival on foreign shores, eight days when a sacred fire burned without its usual fuel, the cessation of growing darkness yielding to progression of light, or an event involving the Hills of Calvary, we remember and celebrate.

We invoke the word “miracle” – an event attributed to a divine agency, an object of wonder. But why? We are here. What event can raise itself to the stature of simple existence? What “miracle” can supercede the existence of even a single atom? Or, a mass of atoms combine in the multitude of forms to create the universe? A mathematically perfect universe. Perfection.

Perfection that was rendered imperfect through the introduction of probability – chance. Chance, in everyday life, is freewill – the choice between two options, either of which will trigger a series of events. Events which will either offer the opportunity for another choice, or conform to more rigid mathematical constraints of cause and effect – which themselves invoke laws of probability.

The universe is, mathematically, perfectly imperfect – moving towards stability, and thus perfect perfection is the outcome. Can any earthbound event really transcend that perfection, or what it placed in existence, awaiting our discovery?

Maybe one. Just possibly one thing can transcend that of creation itself – that we were granted the right to acquire the wisdom, knowledge and understanding necessary to appreciate the true genius of creation. Maybe one – that we were given access to those small elements, those small parts, of the spirit we now must strive to achieve as a whole. We can call that a miracle. But I prefer to view it as a blessing ... and it seems I was again distracted – So much for being a Grinch.

And to ALL my readers
Have a
Let’s eat.

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