Christmas in Camphill Village, Copake

25 12 2010

I’ve been raised Jewish, and this is my first Christmas.

PERSONALLY, I think Jesus would have laughed and called us silly, maybe even foolish, for celebrating him as much as our culture does. First and foremost, I revere the whole, complete, eternal, infinite being of all that is… and secondly, and equally significant, are the specific manifestations of infinity: there is time and space enough enough to admire the leaves, the compost, the snow, the flowers, and every individual thing that is, including specific people. My biggest caution is that we do not turn Jesus, or the Christ Impulse, however noble they may be, into a golden calf, eclipsing, or even replacing, the glory of all Life.

Nevertheless, getting together is one of the most glorious things we can do; so whatever the reason, beautiful potential is there.


Friday morning, our house decorated the Christmas tree, purchased from a nearby tree nursery. There’s all sorts of anthroposophical symbology throughout it, from planet signs, to egyptian and pagan symbols, apples, roses, and hand-crated knick-knacks and candles. Lots of energy went into decorating the tree. It was fun, like making a beautiful puzzle.

For a few weeks, close to fifty people have been rehearsing two different plays, one written by a house father in the village, the other, the Shepard’s Play, of ancient (unknown) decent. Friday afternoon, Christmas Eve, all the village (that wanted to, which was just about all) gathered in Fountain Hall. We watched the first play, had a break for cookies (baked and brought by every house), watched the second play, then walked to the barn where we sang Christmas carols to the cows and pigs, to include and honor some of the animals who are so integral in our lives.

I’ve been awed by how much care and commitment and energy has gone into the plays, and the whole Christmas time. We could say, “Christmas time: nap as long as you want, less work, go take care of your self, every one”, or “Keep working! Get back to work! No breaks! Do more work!” Instead, there is still work, with more relaxation time, and most apparent: there has been preparation, love, work, put into special events. While watching the plays, I was blissfully laughing and laughing, aware that this is how we are spending our time. This is what is important. It’s beautiful. And why not? PLAY!

Christmas Eve night, In Capella, we had a herring salad (with a delicious vegan salad alternative) for supper, followed by singing round the Christmas tree.

Saturday: morning children’s service (every Sunday service, everyone is acknowledged individually; on Christmas, only the children are). Some guests for lunch, veggie burger (chicken for others), stuffing, salad, and white rice, followed by singing round the tree. Then we took turns taking presents from under the tree and giving them to their new care-takers. We did a secret santa among our house, and some family members had mailed other presents as well.

Now we move into the Twelve Holy Nights. Workshops are open in the mornings, and closed for special gatherings in the afternoons. There will be speakers, musicians, puppet shows, story-telling, biography sharing, and other events, every day, concluding on January Sixth with Three Kings Day.


Jesus’ story is a beautiful comedy and tragedy: the nicest, happiest, most compassionate, innocent, wisest person you never did meet, murdered (for more on that, here’s an earlier blog post i wrote). And having positive role models can inspire us to awaken our potential. For some of the details of the carols, or of the plays, I need to stretch my mind to find a metaphor I can grok as a really holy point. But truth is, we’re all at different stages of development, and we all find inspiration and purpose in different things. “My medicine is not your medicine, and your medicine is not my medicine.” But I do believe, the content isn’t the most important thing… it’s the meaning. It seems that here, the meaning of Christmas is to get together, to give to each other, to break out of routine for some once-a-year specialties… duh, the point of the festival is to awaken our Love. Some of the content will connect with some people, some of it will connect with others.

Ideally, we can always give, and always love… but having some certain times, some centers of gravity we can work around, that every one knows, and year after year, can gather around, to remind us about Love… that ain’t bad.








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