Warm, velvet nights, thousands of frogs croak loudly and happy, a few ducks in the sawah (ricefield) next door argue about I don’t know what. Nice plan of the fathers of the church to situate the birth of Jesus near the solstice when days are getting longer. But here we’re going to the longest day. Even though the difference with the shortest day is not that much, in Bali no dark days before Christmas.
Christmas dinners – mediocre meals at five times the normal price or more – paper hats and other fun included. Whining music-Christmas-trees with alarming, flashing lights in the mall, a few plastic stars from last year in the local supermarket;
apart from the calendar and the drivelling of commerce – as usual they mingle sense with the nonsense of more consumption – there is not much in Bali that announces Christmas.
An also the many tourists in Christmas time don’t bring the atmosphere of Christmas with them. Eat (more), drink (more), shop till you drop and beach. That is, I assume the beach is part of it because now and then I see, 40 k away from that beach, half-naked tourists in the village and the shops. The Balinese don’t even frown at it anymore, and no one sees what they really think. About Christmas they don’t know much. Bali is a Hindu society in the biggest Muslim country in the world. A longing for light and peace is everywhere, also here beautiful, meaningful celebrations but Christmas is, for most Indonesians, not more than a ‘tanggal merah’, a red date on the calendar. The offices are closed then.
It’s different for me. Christmas, the word only, pulls open cupboards and drawers full of dear memories. From the time I was young it has been a time for contemplation and remembering the birth of light. Here, in spite of missing that special atmosphere that, at least in my circles in the Netherlands, always has been there, the feeling doesn’t leave me although the fringe is gone. No Christmas-tree, no Christmas-dinner and I take it that Santa Claus will refrain from coming to Bali. Something stays though; celebrating light and peace – inspiration to spread light around.
Against better judgement often – I read newspapers too. The NRA (national rifle association) makes that I almost want to become a client of that very same group of dangerous idiots.
A leader of a church tries to pass on ideas, long past their expiring date, to his people and sees a threat to world-peace if people that love each other are not a man and a woman. About poisonous law-proposals in Uganda, and the literally life-threatening situation for gay people there, not a word. Not about other, similar situations in other countries either. And much more, tremendous suffering, about which I can’t do anything as well.
Where is the light? Believing in Jesus is, also in my opinion, not relevant in that context. It’s about the beliefs of Jesus. Because the latter connects us with all beliefs of good will. Because there is inspiration to start where I can do something.
Christmas: celebration of birth, celebration of light.
I wish you that Christmas may, once again, be a celebration of a light that can shine from within us towards others. I wish that the New Year brings courage and strength to make a difference, wherever we can, whenever needed. May we be able, regardless our beliefs, to bring light in darkness.
I wish you all a good Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Just an idea: when he was born here, the wise men would have come from the west.