I remember all the great Christmases we had in the past when we were kids and me and my two little sisters would stand together in front of the gigantic Christmas tree to sing for our family, and especially our Brazilian grandparents who always came to Germany to celebrate Christmas with us. There were tons of presents, tons of food and many great memories from those times.
However, I can’t help but wonder: why is it that we only concentrate on one day per year to share our love, to appreciate a special day. And why is it that giving presents on Christmas day is so important? Yes it’s part of our culture. We grew up as kids anticipating Christmas just for the fact that we would get new dolls, new games and lots of chocolate or money.
If I look back into my last year, which I mostly spent in Thailand and travelling around in South East Asia, the dearest memory I have is when I met a young monk in Mandalay in Burma. This young monk touched me on so many different levels.
Me and a fellow traveller I had met a few days before had decided to visit a famous monastery where thousands of monks lived and studied. We were allowed to observe them having lunch which consisted of a small portion of rice and vegetables, which was also their last meal for the day.
After lunch we had the enormous luck to get engaged into a conversation with this young monk who was only around 22 years of age. He asked us why people like us, Europeans, who have everything they possibly could have in life, were still unhappy. He asked us what life is like in Europe. He proudly showed us his English homework and asked us to help him with his English vocabularies and pronunciation. He told us that he loved the monastery as he loved studying and his biggest dream was to one day be able to travel and get to know the world. At the end of our conversation we gave him our email addresses. I told him he could keep my used pen. His reaction deeply touched me. He said: “Thank you so much, I will keep this pen forever and it will remind me of you forever. I will show it to all my friends. You made me very happy”. This young monk and his last words had an enormous effect on me and still has until today.
Something happenened to my heart, I felt it pop open wider and wider, and I felt a tremendous amount of love, unconditional love, for this young monk and for the other people who are dear to me in my life. I felt like this young monk taught me a huge lesson in life. To me, who is almost 32 years old. I learned to be grateful for even the smallest of things or gestures. I learned to love stronger than ever before. I learned that all we need in this life we carry it inside ourselves. We don’t need material possessions. We don’t need expensive clothing, sports cars, 3D Flat Screen Televisions. All we need is a strong heart and faith in ourselves and our fellow human beings.
So this blog entry is entirely devoted to you, little monk. Thank you for opening my eyes and my heart. I hope we can meet again one day!
So, this Christmas I won’t give any presents. At least nothing wrapped up. All I will give is my love and friendship. Christmas is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone!