Re: New Year

Yep.  It’s one of those times and occasions during which, as a blogger, you almost feel obligated to write and post something. Or else you could be counted as a lazy blogger, indifferent to the rest of the blogosphereans. Worse yet, if they (blogosphereans) can, they might send viruses, malware, spyware or hate cookies to the server/computer that hosts your blog. Who should we blame for such malice? The Romans - Janus specifically - and other calendar makers and inventors? Without them maybe we would not have new years, let alone new year resolutions.  Romans. Yes. But let’s not forget that the pre-contact Samoans too had a calendar of their own based on the planting/harvesting seasons (Tau, hence “tausaga” for year; also tautotogo, tauvevela, vaitau) as well as on the lunar cycles/phases, therefore “masina” (moon) is word for “month”.

So the calendar concept is universal and I must say that it’s a nifty and dandy idea. Imagine life without yearly calendar recurrences, but consisting of only one infinite and unbroken stretch of tedious and monotonous time continuum? That will be so tedious and monotonous - and dull, aye?
But the calendar structure/format can remind us of the “Re” prefix which presupposes doing something again and better, cycles and second chances. And as flawed and fallible creatures we all are, we need cycles and second chances to do better.  Cycles - of times and seasons - can be good, valuable and constructive.

Therefore the New Year and the “Re” prefix make good relaxing bedfellows. The new year reminds us of our duty and responsibility to renew our personal and social relationships. It can also be a time to be resilient and not resort to repression. Resolve to restitute and reconcile with relatives and others, but especially with God. For the latter, remorse and repentance are required. Refuse to be a recalcitrant. Recommended, however, is renewal through relinquishment, renouncing and rejection of any old repulsive habits. It’s also a time to review and reevaluate through retrospection, reflection and recollection any of the things that need to be redressed, repaired, remediated and rectified. Let’s refrain from - and reject - any repugnant behavior. Instead let’s resume and revive those attitudes and behavior that give us the greatest rewards and returns, whether it’s reinvigorating and rebuilding our bodies, mind or spirit, we just need to relax, recommit and not regress. And no relapse either. We need to rewind, reform and/or restore ourselves. So whatever resolutions we have made for this new year, remember to remain resolute!


A Christmas Perspective

And so it was Christmas, and the time-honored tradition was feted as usual in our home with decorations, gifts, presents, tree(s) and lights, food, music and the controlled pandemonium (of the grandchildren - in our case). All of which served a specific purpose: to help and promote good enjoyable time and fun with family. But sometimes family fun can get in the way of the true, profound, spiritual meaning and essence of Christmas. So if we - as individuals and/or as a family - take time within the fun and excitement to absorb and understand this meaning and essence, at least symbolically, we will feel even more grateful for the Savior’s role in our lives.

The symbolic meaning and essence can be found in the two of the most genuine and authentic symbols of Christmas - the tree and lights. The gospel, after all, is replete with symbols through which we learn, remember and honor our relationship with God. Christ also taught important gospel principles and doctrine using parabolic symbols.

The tree is an important symbol in the scriptures. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life have become primal and principal symbols and archetypes in Christianity. The latter of the two trees was off-limits to Adam - and his posterity - after he partook of the former. And when God placed Cherubim and the flaming sword to guard the Tree of Life, it took on an appearance of a lighted tree - like a Christmas tree. The Tree of Life was thereafter designated as a goal and final reward for those who will repent and endure to the end in keeping the commandments - in other words, those who will overcome [the natural man].

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelations 2:7  Emphasis added)

A typical tree is also the standard symbol for the family, hence the term “family tree”. And since Christmas time is principally family time, the Christmas tree enhances the focus on the family theme, especially for LDS families who, through Church teachings, are taught the importance, value and unity of families to extend beyond death, even forever. The expression “Families are Forever” and temple/genealogical work (re: family trees) are uniquely LDS.

Moreover, in The Book of Mormon, the central symbol in Lehi’s dream/vision is the “tree of life” representing “the love of God” and whose fruits are most desirable and would make one happy. Lehi’s first and immediate wish after partaking of the fruit - and found to be “desirable above all other fruit” - was for his family to also press forward and partake.

In this sense, the Christmas tree can be a symbol for the love of family and love of God.

The lights are equally if not more pertinent. Light is a pervasive symbol of Christ/God.

“...I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
“... God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)
“The Lord is my light and my salvation ....” (Psalms 27:1).

Furthermore, when God (Jehovah/Christ) appeared to Moses, the burning bush was the representation of His presence. So a well lit Christmas tree (like a burning bush) strategically placed in the house can be viewed as a symbol and reminder of God’s presence in the home during the Christmas season.

Lastly, the word “tree”  itself in the context of the crucifixion (hence "the cross"), is a reminder of Christ’s infinite Atonement and Sacrifice.

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24  Emphasis added).

And so a Christmas tree with its lights symbolically remind us of an important means, and an end. We are only able to reach - and partake - of the Tree of Life (end) if/when we walk in the Light of Christ (means).

Manuia le Kerisimasi ma le Tausaga Fou!