The Practice of Christmas
by Amanda Petersen
Little did I know last week as I was writing about darkness that I would literally have my sight challenged. Somehow a perfect storm of pinkeye and other issues combined and my eyes were swollen shut. As my daughter so loving said, “You look like a Muppet.” I spent three full days unable to open my eyes more than a few centimeters, lying around in the darkness with an extremely itchy, burning, swollen face and eyes. I am happy to say when I looked in the mirror this morning I did see someone who is starting to resemble someone I recognize!
Of course my mind raced with all the “deeper” meanings. What am I not seeing? What is God revealing in the midst of all of this? Yet when all of that calmed down I was left with just me. Unable to do or solve or make it go away. All of us have had these moments when the unexpected happens, an illness, car trouble, or an accident leaves us stopped in our tracks and all the plans go out the window. If I am honest, life is always just a moment away from changing my plans.
The contemplative practice I chose in this time after I got through all the “how to make it go away” and “what is the deeper meaning” was to let go into what was, for me, rest and prayer. I was literally left in dark alone with myself and God. Now the transition to rest happened over and over again. I’d let go and then after a while the thoughts to fix or stew would come up again. I’d walk through that again and then let go.
Often, contemplative practices are portrayed as a once-and-done type of thing. One meditates or prays or has some form of devotional, and then transitions into someone who can let go once and move on. At least for myself, this has not happened. I have to choose to return to the practice again and again. I choose to acknowledge grace again and again. I choose to practice humility again and again. The list goes on! The hills aren’t as high to climb, and I get to the space of letting go much quicker that in the past, yet I still need to climb and practice.
I say all of this as a Christmas greeting to you. This time of year continues to roll around and give us yet another opportunity to practice releasing what holds us from resting in, embracing and sharing Love.
May the blessing of this Christmas be a joy experienced beyond your circumstances or expectations.
May the joy of the Season be in knowing how truly connected in Love we all are and a willingness to give and receive Love.
May the connections to yourself, the Divine and others be deepened as you climb your own hills and mountains of practice we call Life.
I am so blessed to have each of you as part of the Pathways of Grace community! I wish you much Love however you celebrate this season.