As I sit in reflection in the very heart of the darkest time, the shortest day of the year, I am more aware than ever of the importance of silence, the silence that surrounds us as the world quiets, and the silence we find within ourselves when we stop and listen.
When I am silent, I hear my true self and access the depths of my soul. When I am silent, I hear with a caring heart. Silence teaches us to know reality by respecting it where words have defiled it. In silent reflection, I am able to abandon myself to the will of the Divine One. If our life is poured out in useless words, we will never hear anything because we have said everything before we had anything meaningful to say.
Christmas, Hanukkah, and the Winter Solstice are a good time for reflection and renewal as well as celebration. This year, I invite you to take time to consider the way that you view the world, and how you might shift your thinking to become happier, healthier, more compassionate, and more at peace.
In my work, I am acutely aware of the adverse effects of a pessimistic, negative view of life. Depression, anxiety, and loneliness continue to increase in our society. There is no doubt that these are challenging and unsettling times in our world. But the truth is that we have always faced the painful challenges of war, political strife, prejudice, and tragedies on a global and personal level.
I encourage you to not fall into the quagmire of pessimism, discouragement, negativity, or bitterness. I hear many people speak of their distress and their belief that the world is doomed. They see only tragedy, hatred, and destruction, and believe nothing good is happening in the world. Keep an open heart, my brothers and sisters. Take time for stillness, seek the truth, and devote yourself to acts of loving-kindness.
Keep Your Focus on Responding, not Reacting
I find it helpful in life to focus on responding, not reacting. This is difficult when we are continually reacting to the barrage of information presented by technology. The more fast-paced and frenzied life becomes, the more we tend to react. Slowing down is a simple way of allowing the opportunity for thoughtful response.
We can begin to slow down by reducing our access to personal smart phones, computers, and electronics in general. Instead, take the time to meet a friend in the park or at a coffee shop. Relax, converse, and enjoy. This may sound radical, but occasionally leave your phone in the car or at home. You may be surprised at how much richer and more meaningful your interactions and life are when not lived through technology. We need to have fellowship, and we need to give love, receive love and feel a sense of belonging. This is spiritual nourishment, and without it we starve. Continue reading “Be Still, and Respond with Kindness”
At this time of year, perhaps more than any other, we have the opportunity to shine forth our soul’s brightest light. The joyous celebrations and sacred traditions of Christmas and Hanukkah help to connect us with our inner spirit of gratitude, praise, generosity, and love, as well as with one another. At the same time, the Winter Solstice, a celebration of the earth, calls us to journey within in the darkness of the season and to look forward to the returning of the light.
Christmas is preeminently a feast of joy. There’s a gladness that infuses the Christmas season, expressed in the exchange of gifts and warm greetings, the familiar refrains of Christmas music, the decorated tree and lights, and the radiant faces of children with sparkling eyes as they eagerly await Christmas day. During this season, we share a glimpse of humanity’s deep longing for celebration, joy, love, peace, sharing, and unity. These are the true gifts of Christmas.
During the whirlwind celebrations of the holidays, I like to take time to reflect on the deeper meaning of these holy days. Naturally, my thoughts turn to the life of Jesus and his teachings. I think of how the baby Jesus is referred to as the “Light of the World” and the “Prince of Peace.” It’s true that Jesus showed us the way to find peace, but it is up to us to do the work. My favorite saint, St. Francis of Assisi, also speaks of peace, writing that we must have peace in our hearts before we announce it to the world.
I often feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that I want and need to do. I imagine that you sometimes (or often) feel the same way. For most of us, the holiday season adds one more layer of busyness to our already full lives. At times like this, I remember the wise words of Mother Teresa, who encouraged us in moments of difficulty to begin again, to stay on task and to focus, always remembering to love fully in every moment. In this way, moment-by-moment, we create our destiny.