FROM PRASHANTHI NILAYAM, Christmas 2012
- From: "martin.quickman" <martin.quickman@...>
FROM PRASHANTHI NILAYAM, Christmas 2012Christmas morning was pretty amazing. The day began with the Vedas, then the students played a selection of classical music on violins and other traditional western instruments which really added a touch of old-time feeling to the festivities. Later, a sweet selection of carols were offered and for a time we were transported to a sort of Christmas Heaven for want of a better word. And even later, a Christmas play presented by the students portrayed the real meaning of Christmas. ”No,” as the boy said, “Christmas is not all about yummy food and presents, Christmas is about the birth of a great teacher whose message seems to be somewhat lost in the world today…”.For the activities, I stood outside on the men’s side where a huge video screen was visible for those outside. It probably was the best place to be, for I could see the beautiful white candle, (not real of course) that stood centre stage and brought the feeling of light and sacredness to the overly flowery stage. The last part of this morning’s celebrations was a light-hearted and very Western concert of Christmas songs… then Bhajans ended the morning..I loved sitting outside where I had the freedom to move around the beautiful ashram… I remained, for the most part of the morning, at the West gate, where I could sit on my own and truly take in the spirit of Christmas..The decorations inside the ashram this year were arranged by the New Zealanders. The theme being hearts in silver and white on a blue background. The hearts moved on the breeze giving them a ethereal feeling. Also there were blue lights and lanterns hanging from the columns of the Sai Kulwant hall. Must say it was very pretty. The garlands on the wrought-iron gates and in the public areas were white, yellow and red and blue, a unique design that I had not seen before..
Back to my updates for this Christmas.Christmas afternoon: The international children’s choir presented a collection of sweet songs on the Christmas theme and as always they performed very well. The last day, yes – an added day that came as a surprise to us all, saw the South Africans perform a play on the birth of Jesus together with a thoughtful presentation on love to all creatures as taught by Jesus the Christ. They further emphasized the sorry state of the world and how we are destroying it by our lack of love and love of things, (stuff) also included in their programme was love for all other species that we share our world with. This kind gesture from the South African community finished the Christmas holiday presentations for this year.
The Little Match GirlSo terribly cold it was, and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year. The snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use. They were very large, so large, indeed, that they had belonged to her mother, and the poor little creature had lost them in running across the street to avoid two carriages that were rolling along at a terrible rate. She could not find one of the slippers, and a boy seized upon the other and ran away with it, saying that he could use it as a cradle, when he had children of his own. So the little girl went on with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches and had a bundle of them in her hands. No one had bought anything from her the whole day, nor had anyone given her even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her long, fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New Year’s Eve. In a corner, between two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but she could not keep off the cold; and she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches, and could not take home even a penny of money. Her father would certainly beat her; besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to cover them, through which the wind howled, although the largest holes had been stopped up with straw and rags. Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold. Ah! perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw it from the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her fingers. She drew one out—“scratch!” how it sputtered as it burnt! It gave a warm, bright light, like a little candle, as she held her hand over it. It was really a wonderful light. It seemed to the little girl that she was sitting by a large iron stove, with polished brass feet and a brass ornament. How the fire burned! and seemed so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as if to warm them, when, lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and where its light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table was covered with a snowy white table-cloth, on which stood a splendid dinner service, and a steaming roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast, to the little girl. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.She lit another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant’s. Thousands of tapers were burning upon the green branches, and colored pictures, like those she had seen in the show windows, looked down upon it all. The little girl stretched out her hand towards them, and the match went out.The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till they looked to her like the stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance. “Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the large, glorious Christmas-tree.” And she made haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon day, and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little girl, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall: she had been frozen to death on the last evening of the year. The New Year’s sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. “She tried to warm herself,” said some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother, on New Year’s day..