Think of how children need time with those they love: time to be together, to play and laugh and cuddle together, without expectation, correction, or any ambition other than to experience joy and comfort in one another. Today, God, Love, wants to spend time with you like that. Feel the comforting, peaceful, joyful presence of your Companion.
During this time of year, we often feel we need to do more: our lives are filled with additional tasks to meet the demands of the holidays on top of our already busy lives. In reality, we need more slowing down. More stillness.
Sometimes we believe we are stressed about our tasks, but that anxiety is an effort to distract from the big feelings the holidays can bring: memories of those who are no longer with us, nostalgia for the past, maybe painful memories of challenging holidays and relationships, maybe just sweetness that feels too big to hold. Don't be afraid to feel the feelings. If you let them flow, accept them, embrace them with kindness and without fear, they won't overwhelm you.
Think of the wisemen who traveled to see the baby Jesus. They left their lives, their businesses, their to do lists behind to stand in awe before the baby and the star above him - and the peace and power they felt in his presence. Do that too.
Some of us get anxious during the holidays. Our fear about our experience of anxiety escalates it into a spiral of worry.
Instead, experiment with not reacting to the anxiety. Just say, "Oh, there you are." Don't label it with any importance, any signal of a deficiency in your life or character or any predictor of suffering-to-come. Say, "This anxiety doesn't mean anything." If the physical sensations feel overwhelming, practice deep breathing.
Slow down. Don't overstuff your schedule. Remember that other people are responsible for themselves.
Two ideas for today. First:
Accept joy. Think about a little girl being tickled by her beloved father, both of them delighted and silly and present with each other. In the same way, Love delights in you with exuberant joy.
Sometimes we reject this kind of joy because we fear happiness isn't serious: if we experience lighthearted delight, we won't finish our work, we won't recognize the depth of the world's suffering or do anything to fix it. We fear we don't deserve joy. We haven't earned it. We fear that if we experience joy, it will just be taken away from us and we'll feel even more flat and sad in its absence. Those beliefs reject a gift being offered us.
Accept the gift. Savor joy wherever you see it, even the faintest glimmer. In a glimpse of the full moon, in a spontaneous and genuine hug, in some time with someone you love, in a delicious homemade meal, in music, in a laugh with a stranger in a store.
Today, also know that you don't need to manufacture the energy to do what you need to do, you don't need to push with will or hold your muscles tense or worry your way into accomplishment. Instead, feel Love's energy, revitalizing you, moving you.
Today, know that there is no separation between you and God, no gap. You are God's very thought. You are God's movement. You don't have to work to create this oneness or connection. Just yield to the truth of it.
Some of us define ourselves by the good that we do others. Our area of growth may be to accept support, insight, suggestions, affection, warmth, and wisdom from others - with humility, grace, and gratitude. Those gifts might come from those very people whom you thought it was your job to help - or those you dismissed.
Know that Love moves through us and others, a great pulsing force, a web of connection, a power that belongs to all of us. Give and accept these gift.
A big source of stress is believing that an uncomfortable emotion is permanent. Today, recognize that emotions are fluid and move through you. They don't need to frighten or worry you. Emotions are important signals, but we don't have to hold them too tightly or with anxiety.
Today, it is not your job to fix anyone. Today, just feel Love loving you all, Love speaking to each of you in your own language.
Know that other people's difficult behavior is most often a strategy for dealing with shame, fear, and false beliefs - just like your own difficult behavior. So have compassion and a light-heart in your interactions today.
We often hear that an important part of our spiritual journey is claiming and cherishing our childlikeness. And it's true!
It's also true that maturity is a divine gift. In our youth-obsessed culture which values excitement and freshness, we can forget the necessity and value of maturity, which offers perspective, poise, wisdom, discernment, patience, and more clarity about when to act and when to wait, when to speak and when to remain silent, what is our responsibility and what is not. Maturity makes us less reactive and less self-centered.
Neither childlikeness nor maturity need to be tied to age, but are gifts of the Spirit. Value and savor your maturity.
The Bible says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
Today, lean on Love. Trust and feel Love directing your path, sorting your priorities, giving you insight for your next steps. Trust Love's activity, even if you can't see farther than that next step. Let Love, not your opinions, guide when you need to push and when you need to rest, when you need to challenge and when to wait. Be prepared to see differently. Rest against Love's wide chest.
Tarn Wilson is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm and numerous essays. You may read more of her work at tarnwilson.com.