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Message From Neale Donald Walsch

Dear Friends,

Wouldn't it be great if we could all just decide that we're Santa Claus?

I mean it. I'm serious. What would happen if we all just decided that we WERE that!??

Is the human mind capable of creating a change in our entire personality because we've decided to do something as simple as imitate somebody else?

Let me ask that question again, because you may have missed its significance. I asked: Is the human mind capable of creating a change in our entire personality because we've decided to do something as simple as imitate somebody else?

I ask the question because yesterday and the day before in Branson, Missouri nearly 300 Santas and Mrs. Clauses attended the first convention of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas. (To be recognized as a real Santa, members have to have real beards.)

According to group spokesperson Joe Moore of San Clemente, California, the convention program provided Santas (over 8000 came from all over the world!) a place to discuss the challenges and opportunities inherent in their decision to "be" Santa. There were seminars on "The Art of Storytelling," for instance, and "Dealing with Special Needs Children." There was even a session on "Santa Ethics", and 12 other topics were covered.

Now your children might ask, "How can there be so many Santas?" Then again they might as well ask, "How can there be so many Gods?" because God is walking around all over the place. Every person you see is Divinity Expressed. In a newspaper story on the Santa convention, the Associated Press asked the first question.

"They probably all take turns," said 6-year-old Audrey Hislip, of Vincennes, Indiana. "'Cause there are a lot of places to get to in the world," said 6-year-old Jessi Whittle, of Iberia, Missouri.

The AP story went on to report that "some Santas are salesmen, some teachers, some retail workers. One is a Catholic priest from Alabama and plans to celebrate Mass on Sunday, the final day of the convention."

But now, here comes the interesting part. Are you ready for this? The AP story said that people told their reporter: "When you put that suit on, you're a different person. You're actually Santa."

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Oh-oh, wait a minute. Did you catch that? Did you catch the significance of that? The AP story said that people told their reporter: "When you put that suit on, you're a different person. You're actually Santa."

That quote was attributed in the AP story to Larry June, identified in the article as a parts clerk at the fleet maintenance facility of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas.

"Even when you don't have it on," his wife, Vickie, added, recalling a girl who saw her husband -- a tall man with a husky voice and long, mostly white beard -- in a restaurant and yelled, "Mommy, Mommy, there's Santa Claus!", the AP story said.

"Things like that happen no matter where we go. I mean, there's something about Santa," she added.

The AP story also spoke of Sid Fletcher, who is Santa at Mall of America near Minneapolis. Sid has been Santa for 30 years. He uses his own personal annual vacation time from Hitchcock Industries, where he makes aircraft parts, to be Santa. But, fascinatingly, he acts like Santa all year long.

"During the off-season, I catch him at a stop sign waving at the kids," his wife, Mollie, said with a grin.

Now when I read that story I had two reactions. At first, my heart was warmed, of course. Whose wouldn't be? And then I began to ponder something that struck me. Could growing a beard and adopting another identity actually cause a change in someone's behavior? Could such an external decision cause such an internal shift in a person's State of Being?

Wow! Zounds! Of course , I said to myself. The answer is YES!

And then it hit me. Isn't this what every spiritual leader has been trying to tell us from the beginning of time?

All we have to do is change our identity! All we have to do to achieve personal transformation is think of ourselves in a new way; think of ourselves as if we were someone else.

Whoa. What a revelation! This works!

Haven't Christians for two thousand years been exhorting their followers to "be like Jesus"? Surely you have seen the acronym widely circulated by Christians: WWJD? (What would Jesus do?)

Isn't that what the Santa's are up to? Aren't they simply asking, in their own minds, WWSD?

And aren't Muslims invited to follow the example placed before them by the life of the Prophet Muhammad?

For that matter, do not the leaders/founders of all the world's religions invite us to do nothing more, in the end, than don a new personality, follow the example set down by others (The Buddha? Baha' u' llah? Joseph Smith? Moses? Abraham?)

Have not our greatest spiritual teachers done nothing more than set out for us examples of how we might behave?

And do we even need a spiritual teacher to do this? What if we all simply decided to behave like Santa? For that matter, who is to say that Santa is not a "spiritual teacher"? Wouldn't it be fascinating if he turned out to be the greatest spiritual teacher of all? He doesn't demand exclusivity (you can call him Santa, you can think of him as Saint Nick, Pere Noel, Father Christmas...no matter), he doesn't make anyone "wrong" if they don't believe in him at all, and he grants the wish of every child who simply believes in him. Hmmm...

So here's an idea for this week. What if we all just decided who we would most choose to be like, and then just pretend we ARE like that! Why don't we get an ideal in our mind...maybe it's Moses, maybe it's Jesus, maybe it's Muhammad or Buddha, or maybe it's Santa or maybe even our own Mom or Dad or that gym teacher in high school (what was his name?)...why don't we get that ideal in our mind, and then, just for this week, pretend we are that person ? Isn't that a great idea?

Wouldn't it be interesting if the whole of all the world's religions and all the world's spiritual wisdom traditions broke down to something as simple as that?

Oh, and wouldn't it be equally fascinating if it turned out that WE were setting the example and modeling the behaviors for our children and our children's children, and for others who cross our path every day? What if WE were the person that some other was looking up to in order to get an idea of what it is like to be a really great human? Would we be pleased with the example we have set today?

This shall be my question for the day. I'm going to ask myself this question all day long. Then I'm going to see if it causes any change in any of my behaviors...

Or maybe I'll just walk around...pretending to be Santa Claus.

Love and hugs...Santa.  :o)


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