Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Tis the Time to Rejoice

The time has come again to rejoice and be merry. Carolers are doing their rounds of nursing homes and other not so jolly places. Amazon is reporting a record year. The UPS man is working over time. And the mailman's bags are overflowing with Christmas cards. 'Tis the season . . .

And just now, sitting and taking time off from readying the house for tonight Christmas Eve's dinner, I found grief right in my core. That's the truth.

Holidays are funny that way. Collective expectations of Hallmark like happiness take one straight to the heart for a reality check. Mind has being doing its number on me for the past few weeks. Taking me back to times years ago, when the children were little, and our family was still whole. Wishing the present cracks were not so. Hoping for this holiday to be over, quick, so the heart does not have to ache so much.

Loving kindness practice can bring the same emotions. Nothing like being faced with the possibility of love, to become aware of its absence in one self. 

Sitting,  I could feel much aversion to the overall unpleasantness. An experience ripe for more insight and wisdom . . . First dealing with foolish thoughts, words popping in the head and that are mired in the hindrances of desire, ill will, and restlessness (my top three . . . ). Much to do with 'others'. If only they could be kinder, more patient, less angry . . . If only they got along . . . If only they did not live so far away, and could be here to celebrate with us, me . . . If only they were not sick and falling prey to old age . . . A bunch of garbage thoughts to be discarded, over and over again. I should know better than to dirty my house that way. 
Very few people in this world have perfect situations. Everybody has something wrong in his or her life. Either the house is too small, or the salary is too low, or the relatives don't agree, or the street is too noisy, or the food is not good enough, or the education wasn't sufficient for the job one wants. There is always something wrong. Nobody has a perfect situation. Everybody tries to make it as nice for him - or herself as possible, which is all right. But if we do not take a stand now, and keep waiting for perfect situations, we will never change. We can't wait for perfect situations because they'll never happen. The perfect situation can only be created inside one's own heart and mind. There it is possible. ~ Ayya Khema, Being Nobody, Going Nowhere ~
'Tis the time to rejoice, indeed. 'Tis the time to rejoice, always. That's the truth.

My brother sent me this picture of him visiting my mother with his son: 

How do you experience these holidays?


  1. I think you've articulated my own thoughts and emotions very well. At 48, standing mid-way between elderly parents and adult children, and ever aware of the anxiety, and today's world/society, this really resonates.

    A few weeks ago, I expressed it as so:

  2. I'm not a "holiday" person - I tend to feel constricted, unable to meet expectations, frustrated and anxious. I honestly try to like Christmas, birthdays, etc., but in reality, if I feel something special for someone, I prefer to act on it - let them know, give a gift, a call, a visit - at that moment... Peaceful and joyous Holidays to all and thank you for your efforts on this blog Marguerite.

  3. We are supposed to be full of good will during the holidays, but often it is the opposite--family squabbles, gluttony, greed, suffering from financial pressure, etc. I would give up any special observance gladly if, instead, we could have true harmony in our society every day. Marguerite, you give people the greatest present anyone can give--your time and loving kindness--worth so much more than some gift wrapped with ribbon in a fancy box. I suspect your charges feel much more gratitude toward you than they are able to express. While the rest of us put on a show of gratitude for presents that we don't really want or need. It's all so ironic. I am not a Scrooge, or against Christmas or anything like that. It's just that the reality is so far from what we pretend Christmas should be.

  4. 'LifeOnMyOwnTerm', yes, feeling the pain of being 'sandwiched' . . . Of course, all grist for the mill of mindfulness and great opportunities to become even more wise.

  5. JDB, thank you for sharing. Responding here from my favorite egg chair, and recovering from the busy-ness of the last few days. Christmas has turned into such a production. It was hard making room for formal sitting practice. Very much delighted in the challenge of bringing awareness and loving kindness to the many actions, interactions involved. Merry Christmas!

  6. johnl, thank you for your kind words. This Christmas (for us French the big day is Christmas Eve) turned out to be a wonderful practice, and probably one of the most joyful ones I ever had. Rejoicing last night with my close family, I was also very aware of the fleeting nature of such experience, and of the many others in the world dealing with much suffering.