A Birthday Story for Christmas

December 25, 2016


December 25th was designated the day for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ by Pope Julius I in the mid-300s.  Since Christmas is a birthday, I thought I’d share with you a beautiful birthday story I read recently in Krista Tippett’s book, Becoming Wise:  An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living.

The book summarizes the lessons Tippett learned from the wise men and women she has interviewed over the years for her program On Being.  It is perhaps fitting that the birthday story related here has Jewish roots.  It was told by Rachel Naomi Remen, a physician, who was given the story on her fourth birthday by her rabbi grandfather.  I am copying it here:


The Birthday of the World

“In the beginning there was only holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life.  In the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light.  And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke.  The wholeness of the world, the light of the world, was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light.  And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.

Now, according to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident.  We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world.  It’s a very important story for our times.  This task is called tikkum olan in Hebrew.  It’s the restoration of the world.

And this is, of course, a collective task.  It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently alive, all people yet to be born.  We are all healers of the world.  That story opens a sense of possibility.  It’s not about healing the world by making a huge difference.  It’s about healing the world the touches you, that’s around you.”


So here’s the wise lesson:  Be the light you want to see in the world.  It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but do even one thing.

Merry Christmas!

3 Responses to “A Birthday Story for Christmas”

  1. kittybluhm Says:

    Thank you, rosemary. I’ll read this to our family tonight

  2. shoreacres Says:

    Interestingly, I posted this video for one of my Jewish readers today, and also added it to my Twitter feed. One line caught me after reading your post: “Everything that chills me breaks into the light.” Whether the song’s based in the teaching you shared, there certainly is a relationship.

  3. Katie Johnson Says:

    Wonderful! Thanks, Rosemary.

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