God often comes at the darkest of times. When all hope seems to have vanished. In the crucible of the pain. In the holy edges and not the center.
A long time ago, an empire oppressed its people. The taxes were so high everyone was on their knees. The poor, destitute, and immigrants were oppressed. There was no place for "them" in a system that was more and more sickened by power, greed, armies, wars, and oppression.
In the Christ story, literal or parabole, God went to someone on the edge of society. A young, poor, unmarried woman. God did not go to the temple, the priest, or the the powerful. And offered to bring light into the world. The witnesses were not the powerful or the holy men either. It was the shepherds. The ones who lived outdoors and slept homeless at night in the field. The light came on the edge of the world of men, witnessed by the common; God had chosen people outside of power, rhetoric, fame, or riches.
As Jesus was born, wrapped in dusty and imperfect rag, and placed in a manger (feedbox), the message was right there: it is those who had been excluded, rejected, victimized, and impoverished that would bring the light back to the world. God will show the world where its love stands. God will come through the edges, in the places that have been abandoned. Although Christmas is now a time of celebration, let's not forget or be mistaken; the first Christmas was a time of deep darkness. As the child was born, the Empire rounded up all boys under 3 years old and killed them all.
In myth, fairy tales, and traditional societies, there are countless stories about the "stranger" who looks different, carries another story, and brings another wisdom. The gods and holy messengers are often disguised as beggars or strange beings. They are often feared or ridiculed. Oppressed and silenced. Usually, the village door does not open for him or her, as they are strange(r), weird (from Old English wyrd "fate, chance, fortune; destiny), and feared.
Even the witches, wizards, prophets, and medicine people always live on the edge of the village, in a forest, in a rugged shack, in a cave, or among wild animals. Society sometimes describes them as beasts as they can shapeshift into such beings. One of the reasons they live far from the "world" is to stay connected to the ancient instructions of God, Nature, and Spirits. They were also often far from power and center because they were persecuted for speaking truth to power and fiercely uninterested in conforming to mainstream narratives. They did not want to be contaminated or tamed.
They refuse the status quo, the power, to be tamed by a broken story and the deep, potent, often invisible poison that luxuries, privileges, entitlement, and power place on the soul and hearts. They could see where insanity, lies, and sickness were before anyone could break the spell of conformity. They are here to disrupt and not to bow to the world of men. Their weapons are words of wisdom and not swords. Their embodied presence is a reminder for the collective to question their narrative. They bring confusion into the illusion of clarity.
So what do those countless stories, myths, tales, beasts, prophets, messengers, angels, mythic beings, and history tell us?
We must step out, below and above, to see from a different perspective. We must be out of the center. We must reclaim the edges. We must live on those edges of divine rebirth and return.
The center is a dead, uniform landscape, chloroformed and sanitized to look perfect and to hide the pain, inequality, and truth. To find the truth, we have to travel to the edges. "Seek the Eagle view," my teacher often told me, "Fly as high as the condor for a new perspective but first ground yourself in the deep forest mycelium and wyrd moss. Then, you can return to the world to be at the forefront of a worthy battle."
Whether from the birth of a savior, an angel's voice, a vision, a spirit, an old Oak tree, or a God, for eons, humanity has remembered its purpose and path through those who came from unexpected places, in unpredictable times, through controversial voices.
As we live in troubled times, where it seems too often that the egotistic perspectives of the mind, the belief of othering, and the brutality and horror find justification, it is good to go to the wood, to the spirits, to the elders who speak truth to power, to the ones who seek a new way, an ancient way. It is time to listen to the voices that have been pushed to the edges.
Inspired by ancient myths and old stories, we might find in that quest the desire to reclaim our own myth that predates all religions and countries, a myth that lives in all the collective relations beyond the human realms. We need to de-center the narrative from the human and find in the web of "the others" a new way of relating and belonging.
Maybe, just maybe, we will find a way out of the powerful sorcery of divisive politics, media, anthropocentric narratives, and cultural distortion.
Maybe, just maybe, we will hear a voice of wisdom in the depth of our bodies, the depth of the forest, and the depth of the world's pain.
And then, we will see a light on the very edges of our beings, the very edges of our societies, the very edges of the world, and might feel called to bring it back to the center of all.
After all, this is really what we are here for. And if we do not reclaim the holy edges, they will unapologetically swallow us all.