It is the end of an eventful year, a year of change for the world, and our country.
It seems to me that when human beings are confronted with change we respond either with fear or love. We can see this play out on our television sets, newspapers, social media, and with our families and friends. Sometimes we see hate and violence, sometimes we see the peaceful demonstrations that are our human right as citizens of a democracy.
But time and again we have gathered to console and peacefully confront each other when differences have arisen, and we have stood with and for one another in concern and compassion when challenges have come our way. We raise funds, make peace-cranes, light candles, teach, listen and learn. We never forget that knowledge, itself, is a stand for justice. We fortify ourselves by exploring meaning and purpose, and then turn towards that purpose with intention and resolve. We are not perfect, but we are determined; we are not large, but we have impact. We see the changes in our world and community and we face them and lean into them, determined to be a source of justice, equity and empowerment. In other words, our response to change is to meet it with open minds while loving and respecting one another.
Knowing that love and respect is always the right response is simple. Realizing that response, however, is not always easy. Love and respect, like yoga and prayer, are practices that are strengthened by weaving them into our everyday lives. Strengthening these practices strengthens us, too, and if ever the world needed the strength of good people, it is now. So, if you are seeking some simple ways to lift your spirits, quiet your inner-critic or ground yourself in goodness, I have some suggestions.
- Read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, or Maya Angelou’s Amazing Peace, or any other work that inspires you. Notice how you feel before and after your reading.
- Go on a short “media fast” and do not watch the news or visit social media for a few days.
- For two weeks, end your day with three minutes of reflection based on the ancient spiritual practice called “The Examen of Consciousness.” Sit quietly and bring your attention to your heart. Ask yourself, “When today was I happiest or most fulfilled?” and “When today was I least happy or fulfilled?” Journal or jot down your internal responses and, at the end of two weeks, notice if there are patterns revealed.
- Practice random acts of kindness and generosity.
As the holidays approach and conclude, may we remember who we are and who we want to be. May our fears be stilled and our courage awakened. May we grow in wisdom, intellect, agency and empowerment, and may we make our world a better place through our presence and actions.
I wish you peace and all good this season…and all year long.