"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
My Christmas cactus starting to bloom got me thinking about the holidays. As someone who no longer celebrates the birth of baby Jesus, I suppose I'm missing the "reason for the season." That's ok. What bothers me is the crass commercialism surrounding the event. Before Halloween was even over, there were decorations out. How did giving a nice orange and some nuts a mere 100 hundred years ago develop into the custom of spending massive amounts of money on people and decorations?
I appreciate the generosity of spirit that is being practiced and I think it's a good thing to give to others. I am guilty of training my kids to expect a lot. I got them hooked on loads of presents for Christmas. It was easier to do when they were little, of course. How do I now extricate myself from the expectation of generosity?
I do miss the absolute magic of the Christmases I experienced when I was little. After what seemed like an infinity of time waiting for THE DAY, we would get up in the morning and open presents at home and eat waffles for breakfast. That afternoon it was off to Grandma's house we'd go where there was another full Christmas tree and stockings. We would eat our traditional dinner there. Now that I have had to cook some of those huge meals, I really appreciate the amount of work and love Grandma put into her dinners. When the girls were little, the magic returned because they believed in Santa Clause and were so excited on Christmas eve and in the morning. I loved hiding the presents and digging them out to put them under the tree. I wasn't as fond of hauling everything up to Wyoming to spend Christmas with Gary's family, but I did enjoy the happy chaos of the day.
Now my grandmother is gone and Gary's parents are gone and we stay home. I like staying home. I like sharing meals with our friends which is probably why I actually prefer Thanksgiving as a holiday as opposed to Christmas. There's not all those weeks of shopping and wrapping that end in 10 minutes. There are still those hours of cooking that end in 10 minutes with more hours of cleanup.
Maybe I'll just have to wait for grandchildren before I experience the magic again. In the meantime, I'm back to working on my attitude of gratitude for family and friends who take the time to pick out something to give to me and wrap it with care, just as I will do the same for them. I will focus on the bright colored lights at night that I love. I will look below the surface of my antagonism and remember the love I feel towards the special people in my life.
And if I want magic in my real world, then I'll just have to look a little deeper. The miracle is always there, even if it's not Christmas.
"We observe the great expanse of creation through the narrowest of portals and attempt to understand it. In a universe whose dimensions in time and space are inconceivably vast, we apply the constricted logic of hours and weeks, inches and miles, to matters that are spawned in the vaults of the Infinite." -- John Niendorff
"Nobody really knows why we are here, obviously. There are big pieces missing from the pictures offered us by science and religion. Based on our present knowledge, the whole thing doesn't make sense. But what's so wonderful is that we want it to make sense, and our need for meaning drives us relentlessly to create." --Anne Rice
This morning I went for a walk on Pine Ridge with Skipper and Brogan. I had my camera with me so the pace was slower than my morning walks with Kaye, but that's a good thing. The air smelled good, especially when I could catch a whiff of pine.
I started thinking about change. There are big changes, obviously, like what happened this week nationally and there's plenty of commentary on that.
There are seasonal changes. Today it is late fall, almost winter, so the leaves are off the trees and everything looks brown. There has been a little snow and there will probably be a whole lot more this winter. Hopefully there won't be as much this winter as there was last winter but that's out of my control.
There are daily changes, like the sun rising and setting, the lunar cycles, the light changing as I walk.
There are physical changes that I experience in my body. I have to wear knee braces now when I walk to avoid the pain of chondromalacia, runner's knee, even though I don't run. I could call it "Bhutanese Knee" since that's when it became problematic. There are other inspiring age-related changes I'd just rather not dwell on.
There are mental changes. My memory, always questionable, is less reliable. On the plus side though, there are some changes related to gaining Wisdom! The multitude of life's experiences help me to make wiser choices sometimes.
There are emotional changes. Being ever so wise and mature I'm less volatile and erratic.
There are spiritual changes. I have evolved from my early Episcopalian upbringing through some interesting phases into a place that combines different spiritual practices into one that works for me. Quantum physics, buddhism, pantheism, and recovery all blend into some kind of uniquely-mine-mix.
So, as I was walking along, taking pictures, admiring trees and rocks and sky, I thought about the fact that every step I took involved change. I changed my position, my perspective, my views. I thought about how on the molecular level I am constantly in motion along with the planet and as always wondered why we don't just fly off into space. Then, thinking about space reminded me of the how big the universe is and how small I am. That used to bother me but it doesn't any more because I realize we are all ONE and I am part of the oneness, a little speck of consciousness manifesting itself.
Then I thought about how difficult change can be and how resistant I am to it when I am not practicing acceptance. It's an emotional pattern to fight change when in fact everything is changing moment to moment. The antidote? Live in the moment! Easier said than done, but it does work. Dwelling on the past and worrying about the future won't change anything.
A very dear friend of mine taught me how important gratitude is for dispelling fear and negative thinking. It's an important practice.
There are so many things that I am grateful for today: my family, my friends, my health, a wonderful place to live and a warm fire on this cold day. There are small things I'm grateful for today as well: the beautiful flowers my office mate received from her sister that brightened up our small, windowless room, picking up my cat Jack and listening to him purr, an internet connection with DSL and blogs!
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice."