But I know somehow that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. Martin Luther King, Jr.
There is such a need for sustained hope as 2020 finally comes to an end. Hope rises in our hearts with the reality of a vaccine for Covid-19. A glimmer of hope arises in me at the prospect of beginning to heal the great political divide and racial tensions of our country. John Lennon says it beautifully in his song Imagine, “You may say that I’m a dreamer but Im not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
A year ago I was diagnosed with a very rare, life-threatening autoimmune disease. After eight months of a treatment plan that included very toxic medication, there was no turn-around. There is no cure, but we are finding ways to manage my disease. Hope has sustained me, first through the treatment period, and now as we manage its impact on my body. I am certainly living a new normal, and I am learning how to slow down and be fully present to the beauty that surrounds me.
It is important to not mix hope up with expectations. Expectations can create a sense of anger and resentment by pushing us down the path of disappointment when things don’t go our way. “Hope is being able to see there is light despite the darkness.” Desmond Tutu Hope is my light.
Ruben A. Alvez states, Hope is hearing the melody of the future.” May you hear the melody of hope in your daily life. This has been a hard year, but, it too shall pass. It is so important that we remain safe and keep our families safe so we can have a joyous gathering next season. This year has been hard, we have been isolated from friends and family—2021 is almost here bringing hope for the future.
Have a safe Christmas, Hanukkah, or however you choose to celebrate this wonderful time of year.
A Winter Solstice Blessings
May you find peace in the
promise of the solstice night,
That each day forward is
blessed with more light.
That the cycle of nature,
unbroken and true,
Brings faith to your soul
and well-being to you.
Rejoice in the darkness,
in the silence find rest,
and may the days that follow
be abundantly blessed.
Rilke considered the cold season the time for tending one’s inner garden. “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
May you find peace and rest in the invincible summer within you.
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. Rumi
What better time to write about transitions then when fall is slowly turning to winter. I’ve always used the seasons as a way to look at my own growth. In fall I love walking in the crisp air and seeing the vivid colors that tell me fall is in its prime. I watch the leaves let go and fall to the ground, and ask myself “What do I need to let go of.” I mourn the slow loss of my roses, dahlias, and other summer plants. I watch them die away, going dormant, preparing for the rest winter offers for renewal. I ask myself, “What is dying within me?” “What wants to be birthed?” These are questions of transition. Questions many of us ask, and often want quick answers. I turn to Rainer Maria Rilke’s quote reminding me to be patient:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
It is often hard for me to “live the question.” I let the questions free float as I do walking meditations. I make space for the answers by slowing down and listening to what comes forth.
May you find the time to be patient and “Live the Questions” of your life.
The Worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself. Mark Twain
A sense of separateness comes from feeling disconnected from community, families, friends, and our own selves. Lion’s Roar, a bimonthly magazine recently had a full section on loneliness. The introduction showed the number of research studies that are currently being done on loneliness. There are commissions on loneliness and campaigns to end loneliness. The United Kingdom has a Ministry for Loneliness. Loneliness is a hugh societal issue. We are connected to our phones, computers, and virtual relationships, but no longer look each other in the eye or have actual conversations.
One author recommended completing the sentence; Loneliness is a child…. Without consciously thinking of my own childhood I finished the sentence with the first thought that came to my mind. My sentence stated, “Loneliness is a child, in the midst of a family, feeling not seen nor heard–feeling invisible.” After writing this I realized this was my childhood. Much of my adult life has been spent yearning to be seen. I also know that I often feel more lonely in groups of people then by myself. I invite you to complete the sentence without forethought. Write what pops up for you. Write the sentence several times. An interesting exercise to give yourself insight to when you feel lonely.
Natalie Goldberg wrote a piece in this section sharing her sense of loneliness. She states, “Loneliness has followed me all my life……but no one every dared mention the dreaded word loneliness or utter its experience. Did only I feel it? That’s what loneliness is, believing you are alone in the whole world.” Loneliness is something we don’t talk about with others. We often believe we are the only one that feels lonely.
Martha Beck states, “Loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact.” It is when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to share our sense of loneliness with another that we begin to feel connected. Taking time to be alone helps us get to know who we are beneath the cultural norms that say we need to do more, have more, be more. Solitude gives us the silence needed to let go of what is not working for us.
May you find time in your days for quiet heartfelt conversations and the stillness silence brings so you may get below the layers of societal expectations.
photo credit, Jeswin Thomas
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is to see everything as a miracle. Albert Einstein
I have lived in both worlds. I now choose to see everything as a miracle. Living as though nothing is a miracle creates a darker world. I lived in a world of cynicism, distrust, anger that shaded my interactions and experiences. A wonderful definition of a cynic is “One who is a disenchanted idealist.” That was certainly me. Coming of age in the sixties I believed anything was possible. For a decade I thought we could change the world. Becoming a cynic protected me from the reality that change is slow and one step at a time.
Today I believe that everything is a miracle. I still have my moments of anger as I live in a world that is deeply divided and hate-filled. Instead of raging I feel deep sadness and know that this too shall pass. I know that my presence can make a difference through kindness, a smile, a word of encouragement. Bringing a smile to another’s face is a miracle. One step at a time is all we can do.
When I notice myself getting down, I walk outside and let nature renew me. How can I not see the miracles of a rose unfolding, or a flicker bathing itself in my bird bath? These are small everyday events and true miracles. Taking a hot shower each morning is a miracle. There are so many hands that help bring the hot water to my home. I know how blessed I am, as so many people in our world don’t have this luxury. Miracles are in front of us every day.
These are two of my favorite quotes that speak so simply to life as a miracle. “If you are bored, you are not paying attention.” Fritz Perls, and “Stay close to anything that makes you feel alive.” Hafiz.
May you feel the aliveness of miracles throughout your day.