Monday, December 25, 2006
Harlem, December 2006
This is from the front of a small church on 126th Street. I couldn't tell whether the church is still functioning, but I liked the little green and gold tiles.
We didn't make it to church this year. I grew up a Presbyterian, and normally my family goes to a midnight service on Christmas Eve. But this year, with the baby along, it seemed a little too complicated. So instead we went out driving last night to look at Christmas lights, and the baby slept the whole time.
Looking at Christmas lights is kind of funny. Our culture definitely rewards "maximalism," if there is such a word, with the most riotous displays getting the attention and awards. Of course, I tend to go for the minimalist ones: We saw one house with three palm trees in the front yard, their trunks circled with little white lights. That's my idea of a nice Christmas display: very simple.
It might seem odd that a Buddhist would want to go to church on Christmas. But I do like the social traditions of the holidays, and as we've discussed at my Zen center, religions are really more similar than different. What Buddhists seek through our ideas of oneness and emptiness is really not all that different from what Christians seek in God. So for me, there's no conflict.