The ocean of life in which destiny has placed us is infinite, at times lit with sunshine, at times stirred by storms, and the only boat we have to make this journey is the human heart. But being alive, the heart is a magic boat—its size depends upon its cargo. When it carries the withered little nut of ‘me,’ of ‘mine,’ it is no bigger than the shell of a nut; when it becomes the home of the Divine Presence, it stretches from one horizon to the other.
To journey safely, without fear of mishap, we must become the students of love, and the first step in our apprenticeship is to open our hearts to those around us: our family, our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues. There is no use in saying, ‘I would love them, but they are not loveable.’ When we look for faults, no-one is loveable, least of all ourselves. And as Mevlana Jeleluddin Rumi said, “To complain of the creature is to complain of the Creator.” If we wish to welcome the Infinite Lord of Mercy—should we dare to aspire to such a privilege!—we cannot begin by saying, ‘You are welcome, Lord, but Your children are not.’
That is why the image of the Nativity offers such hope and such inspiration to the world: the Divine is recognised in the most humble circumstances, here on earth in the cold and dark amidst animals, and the first people to come and celebrate the birth are not the great, the powerful or the learned, but simple shepherds. If we could rise above the endless catalogue of distinctions and differences with which we classify the world, we might begin to see that every birth is the birth of the Divine, and every family has the potential to be a holy family.