Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, said, "Be silent and calm every evening and morning...this will produce an undaunted, unbreakable inner habit of happiness that will make you able to meet all the trying situations of everyday life."
I agree -- stillness in the morning and evening is beneficial. Life is always filled with trying situations. It is part of everyday living. Sometimes, I think it's my need to avoid the trying situation that causes the most stress.
Somewhere, I believe life shouldn't be trying, it shouldn't have stressors. And that's just not true.
A good life isn't in the things we have, or the fact we don't have difficult times happen. Life is in how we deal with the difficulties, the stumbles, the rocks in our road, the trials and tribulations of daily living.
Yesterday my day was chocker block full with media, people dropping in unexpectedly to drop off Christmas gifts for the shelter and its clients, meetings and places to be and not enough time to get everywhere. None of the happenings were bad, just challenging to fit them all in.
At this time of year when Christmas busy-ness is a glittery overlay of lights and music and rushing to and fro, I sometimes forget to take time out from the busy to simply relax into the beauty and joy of this time of year.
This is a time of peace and yet I feel anything but peaceful. Time to step back, take a deep healing breath and centre myself in what is real and true and beautiful about Christmas.
It isn't the gifts or the tinsel hanging from the tree. It isn't in the dollars spent, or pennies saved. Christmas is in the air. It's in the smiles on people's faces. In the light in their eyes. It's in the warmth of a greeting. The gentleness of a touch. The wonder of each moment spent thinking about someone else -- and that is what gifts are all about. Not the purchase, but rather the time out I take to think about those I love. To spend time thinking about what they like, what they need, what they want. To think about their habits, their idiosyncrasies, their likes and dislikes. To think about what they mean to me. The joy, the laughter, the love they bring to my life. The gift is simply a physical statement of the time I have spent thinking about them and what they mean to me. It is the outcome of my reflections on their beauty and spirit.
Christmas is a marvelous time of year. My youngest daughter Liseanne, is a Christmas child. She lights up at this time of year. She exudes joy and laughter and caring. This year, she and her sister have adopted a young woman and her eleven month old baby. She's calling friends and family to assist them in raising funds to help them buy the necessities for this young woman who is currently finishing high school, working and raising her daughter. I am in awe of both Alexis and Liseanne's commitment to helping this woman and her baby. There is no greater gift as a mother than to witness her daughters caring hearts opening up to the needs of a stranger. Christmas is in their heartsfelt caring.
Christmas is in the faces of the Grade Six class who came into the shelter yesterday with 81 backpacks filled with 2,736 items they had collected to help out our clients. They had shampoo and socks and cough drops and toothbrushes and candies and mittens stuffed into the backpacks. They arrived with their teacher and some parents to unload the gifts late yesterday afternoon. Christmas was in their infectious laughter and joy and willingness to make a difference.
Christmas is in my good friend Suzanne's wish to help out. She wrote an email to all her friends asking them to support her in a drive to purchase mittens and hats for the shelter. She raised over $2,000.
It's in my friend Donna's desire to learn more about what homelessness is in our city and who is now looking to volunteer her time at a shelter for women and children.
It's in the film crews wish to not charge full rate for their time yesterday. It's in the woman walking by and offering one of our actors a sock filled with toiletries. It's in every nook and cranny of our city. It's the simple gesture. The small significance that makes a huge difference to the recipient.
Christmas lives in our hearts. It is the spirit of giving. It is the knowing that we are all connected through our humanity. That place beneath the scars and bruises. Beneath the dirty clothes or designer togs. The perfect stylist job or the dirty hair. Christmas exists in the spirit of our caring, our concern, our desire to make a difference in the lives of those we love and of the strangers we reach out to when we lend a hand, or give a dollar to ease the stress of difficult lives.
Christmas is in knowing that even though life is filled with difficulties we have the power to stop and take a breath. To connect to the deep, still, quiet waters of our heart's steady beat. And in that breath, as we open our eyes to the wonder and beauty of this life, we find the power and the courage to step beyond our trials and tribulations, to awaken to the triumphs of life lived from morning to night full of hope, faith and joy. Christmas is in our unbreakable, undaunted habit of happiness in all kinds of weather.
The question is: How quiet is your heart beat? How steady is your habit of happiness?