The challenge with this season is that our culture decides to focus on bright and shiny and joy, but reality does not change. There is still suffering. Christmas lights; people are sleeping outdoors in the cold. Baking cookies; 25% of the population in Silicon Valley is food insecure. Christmas carols; there are people sobbing and wailing in grief. Spending and spending on presents; foster kids have nothing. The differences are unsettling. My body is tired. My joints ache. My mind races with to-do lists.
So I do this: I sit in silence. I settle into my breathing and notice each breath. I take off my glasses and gently lay my hands on my face. I rest this way a few moments, feel the warmth and tenderness of my hands, feel my face relax. I move my hands to my head and neck, massaging them. If thoughts come, I decline the invitation to follow them. If I catch myself in a thought, I recognize and let it go. I do this until I feel real again, whole and connected. Then I feel into what comes alive in my core. What can I do in this moment, to help, to love, to heal part of the world? When an idea arises, I follow.
That idea might be to write a note to someone. Or pick up the phone and call. It might be to divert money that would be used for family gifts and spend it on gifts for children in foster care. Or to write a check to Second Harvest Food Bank. It’s as simple as really looking at the person who rings up my purchases and saying hello, how is your day going? And meaning it, receiving the response, making a connection.