For much of the world, Christmas takes place in the bleak midwinter. It is when the days are dark and cold and grey that we celebrate the birth of love and joy.
I don't think this is an accident. The Buddha teaches that the lotus needs the mud to grow. The difficult times so often drive us to become more than we think we are.
Christ was born in the mud and the hay. His parents were cold and hungry. He grew up to work with his hands, and lived a simple life. He suffered and was tempted and sacrificed his body and died. He was as ordinary as he was extraordinary.
His story is our story. Just like Christ, we all suffer and we all spend time in the mud. We all sacrifice our bodies and die. But just like Christ, we all have the power to use our suffering as fuel to turn us away from hate and ignorance and delusion and towards love and truth and peace.
With every breath and heartbeat, we can let go of the past and begin again. We can awaken to the kingdom of heaven within us and bring it forth onto the earth. We can choose again and again to love ourselves and each other, no matter what.
In doing so, we plant the seeds of spring.