Often during this time of year, I am reminded of Christmases past during which my best friend, Darlene, and I spent many hours cranking up our funding requests for a local foster children’s organization. I will never forget what she once wrote in a letter requesting help back in 1981. “Christmas is a time when abundance rejoices and want is keenly felt.” It was a sobering statement, and inspired me to take a personal inventory. What more might I do to help others in that “want is keenly felt,” state, and how could I offer my support in a way of meeting them where they were without trying to fix them or make things better? How could I just join them, while offering my love and concern?
Recently, I returned from an intensive 21 day process/retreat in India, where participants were rigorously guided through a series of exercises/meditations to assist in removing emotional charges, including feelings of fear, separateness and insufficiency, while guiding us more into states of peace, compassion, and love. At the end of this experience, we were each initiated with the ability to offer the blessings with which we were repeatedly endowed during our time there. And to our great delight, many of us are now giving those oneness blessings to others to help them along in their process.
On the eve of my departure from India, I answered the call I never really believed I would receive. It was from my son, Stephen, who compassionately launched the conversation with, “I don’t know how to tell you this….” The message which followed was that my father had died. Immediately after hearing the news, I was embraced by the love of what seemed to be a hundred fathers and mothers. People came from every corner to show their care and concern during this impossibly difficult time of loss and change. They prayed with me; they shared with me; they held me; they provided prayer circles in honor of my father; they turned down my bed; and stroked my head, and much more.
The days that followed were a surreal blur of travel, funerals, and family. I went straight from India to my father’s eulogy, in which I had no part, save my insistence that a song from my great nephew be included. Further, the last time I had seen Dad, he was in his perky yellow trousers, waving good bye to me as I boarded the plane. This time, he was boxed up in a brown, walnut casket.
There were extraordinary moments of relief from this intolerable nightmare, like when I read the card accompanying a dozen white roses (Love from your sisters in room 11, India). The love had followed me halfway around the world. And then there was the long visit with a lifelong, treasured friend, Mary, who has an uncanny knack for making you believe you are the only one who matters. Ya… the love was everywhere. All I had to do was notice.
As can often be the case following a spiritual intensive, despite all good intentions, you can be disillusioned upon “re-entry.” Alas, humanity is where humanity is. People, including you, continue to do what they do. Just because you went “off planet” for a few weeks, doesn’t completely immunize you from a world out of whack. It is how you deal with that out of whackness that will determine your peace or misery.
As always, I have had some sobering reminders that this humanity of ours hasn’t quite reached the lofty goal I share with a multitude of others: That one fine day, we will all see ourselves as simply individuations of the ONE Source, which connects us. And that duality, competition, greed, insufficiency, fear, separation, wars (both personal and global), along with other atrocities, will only be distant memories of our ancient, primal past.
What to do in the meantime? Well, maybe we could start with finding a person or group, whose life/lives may be in that “want is keenly felt” place, and realize the joy of sharing friendship. Maybe we can emulate my friend Mary’s knack for making them feel as though there was nothing more important than being there with them right there and then. Ya…I think that is what happiness and the holidays means to me. Thank you, Darlene and Mary, for the reminder.
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