Too often I walk with my head down. Not an indicator of mood, necessarily but rather, an indication of where my gaze falls, where my mind is. Buried.
It was while walking a dog this chilly morning that I realized. I looked over at the black labrador and observed him. He, naturally, was looking down because for him, seeing the world around him is more than using his eyes. He ruffles around in the leaves and pokes his nose into bushes to grasp the latest gossip, to observe the territory, to truly see the world that surrounds him.
And perhaps most of the time my head hangs to also do those things… however I can’t help but feel that I am gathering that data half-heartedly, immersing only half of my senses into the heavy hunk of metal in my hand to come up with a diluted, skewed version of reality that’s preventing me from going all-out, nose-to-the-ground soul searching during the amazing wonder this time of year has to offer.
On one side of the path I am walking is housing, dressed up with the decorations of the season. On the other there is just forest, devoid of life and leaves with the exception of a lone crow squawking, making me feel like I’m in the wrong season even this close to Christmas. It’s a pretty accurate depiction of my brain’s inner dissonance, frankly. And then I thought to myself, wow. I honestly can’t believe tomorrow is Christmas. It doesn’t feel like Christmas. Except Christmas is at the same time every year, it always has been, all of what it is and what it represents has always been there, it’s just a matter of how in-tune to it I am. I’m going to say that the fact that Christmas has practically snuck up behind me like a classically trained hit-man says a lot about the readiness [or better, the lack thereof] I’ve had for the season. Heck, even ADVENT feels rushed; the fourth night is the same as Christmas Eve, which, according to my youth minister is a bit of a headache for the planning of the liturgy.
As much as I don’t like to think about the material parts of this holiday season it’s all too evident everywhere and I wish it were easier to slow it all down and not feel the pressure and the guilt that has this way of sneaking into our hearts when we are distracted, when we’re not present, when parts of our life are missing that we may not even know about.
But then I’m hit with moments of pure bliss, the smallest acts of kindness that I sometimes can’t process because they’re so real, so earnest, so full. Moments like kids just laughing with you [or at you, in my most recent cases], completely oblivious to any negativity and all that exists on their face is pure joy. Moments like a hand written note where the words just jump off the page and into my head as the voice of the person who wrote them, leaving me speechless with their genuine and honest rhythm. Moments like texts really late at night from someone you haven’t spoken with in far too long that are completely out of the blue and right there, unfiltered and raw that remind you of the special connection you have with them. Moments like when your dog just passes out on you after being so worked up and excited that you walked in the door. Moments when you have plans set in stone to reconnect with those so close to you but so far away that you only get to see them so much during the year.
It’s these things–no, not things. Moments. People. Emotions. These are what snap me out of the distraction, the bitter, the material-ness and whatever shit and baggage I’m dragging around, in my heart or on my to-do list, and they remind me of a simpler, more uncomplicated joy. The one that should be, without a doubt, present not only this holiday season, but all year long.
I read somewhere recently that expressing gratitude in a moment of sadness does wonders for your mood and your present-moment outlook. Stressing about all the things I don’t have wrapped or the books I haven’t finished or the things I haven’t paid or even the views/likes/comments on posts that don’t even begin to do the vibrancy of life’s here and now justice… it isn’t at all on my list this Christmas.
Tonight I’ll be spending a considerable night at church [my little sister is going to be a horse in our pageant and later is my favorite part– being in a sanctuary loaded with parishoners who, in the dark, hold white candles softly burning with a flame that lights up the entire sanctuary as we sing “Silent Night”. [perhaps more on that later if I edit this, I’m kind of spewing things out in the moment right now.]
I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday, one filled with all of the relationships, memories, and moments that are *the* absolute food for the soul.