A vital message of Christmas is that in the darkest time of the year a light is born that can transform and lift us to a higher order of our own being. 

In our daily life, this light of awareness shows us ourselves, such as our negativity and how we live in a world of thought that keeps us from being present and open to each moment’s gift.

For example, it may show our immediate reaction to unwanted moments, like just looking at somebody and getting negative. Did they make you negative or did they reveal a negative character within yourself waiting to be triggered? That revelation is actually a kind of a light. 

Normally we don’t see it as a light; we blame the other person for how we feel. But what happens if we stop pushing such moments away and agree to see what the light is showing us about ourselves? An eternal light shines on the darkness of myself. And when there is more light than darkness, we realize, “I don’t want to be that kind of person anymore.” 

If we pursue our wish to see more of ourselves, we receive these timeless rewards: Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those that mourn. Blessed are the meek. 

Perhaps they don’t sound like rewards because we don’t know the beauty of the relationship that produces them in us, and the freedom and strength born of those revelations. Accepting these realizations is doing the Work of Christmas!

Add a Higher Purpose to Every Day

The Work of Christmas is supposed to go on in us all the time. We never cease having the potential to stand in this light that is already part of ourselves, and by it see where we missed the mark. The light never resists a negative condition; it acts on it and transforms it. 

What is our role here? How do we do the Work of Christmas, the work of being mindful and practicing presence? I prepared the following story to introduce what its means to be in relationship with this light that reveals us as we really are, and the rewards that come of that:

Once upon a time, a great King announced a contest for an unimaginable prize — an irrevocable share in the kingdom and all its riches. According to the rules, all citizens would offer the King something nearest and dearest to their heart. The person offering the most pleasing gift would win. 

At the appointed hour, everyone assembled in the castle’s great hall. Each person was to approach the throne and offer their gift. Then they were to step to the right of the throne and stand directly beneath a golden crown that seemed magically suspended in air. It was explained that the crown would descend by itself to rest upon the head of the one who had offered the greatest gift. 

The ceremony went on for hours. Rolls of silk; treasure chests; prized family heirlooms; even bottles of home-pressed oils and wine were offered the king. Some nobles promised their wise counsel or the services of their personal guard, but at no time did the golden crown descend to grace any of them the winner. 

At last, only one man, Christian, remained to approach the king. He was a simple man who tended a small vineyard and was widely considered to be of no account. When the king summoned him to come forward, Christian stepped out from the crowd. 

The crowd yelled in protest, seeing Christian as the last person worthy of a share of the kingdom. Nevertheless, he walked directly up to the throne and handed the king a letter. As the king opened and read the letter, Christian began to walk away. 

The next moment, the King spoke for the first time. “Young man. Come back. You have yet to stand beneath the golden crown!”

More protests came from the crowd, but as he’d been instructed, Christian stepped to the spot. Scarcely a heart beat later, the crown began to glow. A bright shaft of light circled Christian from head to toe. And as everyone stared in disbelief, the golden crown descended to softly rest upon his head. 

The crowd expressed anger and disbelief. The King held up his hand. “Be patient and I will explain all to you, but first, Christian, please read your letter aloud.”

Christian stepped forward and started reading. “My dear King, when I heard about the contest, my first thought was to misrepresent myself and my possessions, to appear more valuable, but I soon realized there was no use in pretending. 

“So, I decided to write you this letter to explain why I’ve brought nothing with me. Like all of us here who found their way into your kingdom, whatever I have—you gave me: a home, a field, even the seeds I planted to profit as best I could. You gave all of it to me freely, so what can I possibly offer you that isn’t already yours? 

“As for promising you some skill or power of mine, I’ve come to see—thanks to the light that permeates every corner of your kingdom—that none of these gifts are mine. I also realize that most of the qualities I believed were my greatest strengths were nothing of the kind. I’ve seen that my anger isn’t a strength but rather a weakness that hides itself behind a mask of indignation. And for my unfailing ability to judge others, which I once believed proved me better than they—it proves nothing of the kind. After all, what kind of wisdom is it that points out the faults of others to make itself feel wise? 

“I could go on, but to be clear, the only thing I have to give is my deepest gratitude to you for creating the exact conditions I needed in order to see these truths that have helped set me free. Sincerely yours, Christian”

Then the King said, “You, Christian, have brought me what my heart treasures most, which makes it my greatest joy to give you the keys to my kingdom. Do you know what you have brought me here today that no one else has offered me? 

“Humility. It is the last thing that he who bears it would consider a gift let alone think it worthy of giving a king. True humility such as you have shown here, is the crowning of the soul. Only the heart opened by humility can be transfigured into an instrument of love. This order of love is conceived through a single, selfless act that happens when, in the darkness of any unwanted moment, the Divine stirs the sleeping soul with a light of some revelation about its nature and asks ‘Will you accept the truth about yourself that my light has come to reveal to you?’ When that soul, despite its trepidation responds ‘I do,’ the miracle happens.”

Accept life’s revelations. At first we may feel we’ve been plunged into darkness, but in that darkness is a light that, as it grows, becomes the seed of a new life.

Guy Finley is an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and bestselling self-help author.  He is the Founder and Director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for transcendent self-study located in Merlin, Oregon. He also hosts the Foundation’s Wisdom School — an on-line self-discovery program for seekers of higher self-knowledge. Guy livestreams two free talks a week. Each talk is followed by an open Q&A session. To register visit www.guyfinley.org/online