Here we are. Sitting at the doorstep of Christmas, knocking. Hello, Christmas, 2020. How shall we celebrate you, herald you into our hearts this year?
Many of us are alone or semi-alone this holy-day season. We’re isolating in family groups of two, three, four. Some of us celebrate with only the candle of ourselves. Those participating in larger get-togethers are probably not pausing at the hearth of this blog today.
We’re here, you and me, gazing at Christmas lights, maybe a ceramic Christmas tree, perhaps a nativity set passed down from Grandma and Grandpa. Maybe a cardinal ornament hangs from your cupboard. Few decorations or many, there’s a certain aloneness in our celebration, isn’t there?
I imagine feelings of loneliness may arise for some of us. Little pangs in the heart. Throbs of missing loved ones. Feeling perhaps left out? Sadness, grief, hopelessness, despair may come to visit our nativity set today. (Or perhaps it won’t, and that’s OK, too. )
Barry and I don’t usually spend Christmas-time with family, so it’s been many years of aloneness here in our little house in the woods. In recent years we’ve been sometimes breaking bread with friends, but not every year. I’m used to aloneness and sometimes cherish it deeply. I never know what kind of feelings might decide to join the holiday celebration.
What do we do with more painful feelings that may appear during Christmastime? I don’t know what you do, but may I share what’s been helpful here over the years?
First, if possible, I make an intention to invite rest, relaxation, and connection with Spirit into this day. Moments of sitting down on the couch and just staring out the window. Breathing. Watching nuthatches and chickadees. Relaxing the nervous system. Noticing what is larger and more encompassing than thought. What is here–right now–that’s not a thought or emotion? Feeling the silence all around that is always, always here. Always available. We just often overlook it because it seems like no-thing. (See yesterday’s blog for a meditation about accessing this.)
It takes me between ten and twenty minutes of noticing the larger awareness before the body goes ahhhhhhhh. It’s a noticeable ahhhhhhhh. Dozens of thoughts may arise (like this morning. At least a hundred thoughts appeared). But I try to keep focusing and relaxing into the silence between the thoughts.
I will probably do this several times today. Just to connect with the Holy Silence.
Second, when loneliness or sadness arises–can you see that it’s just part of you? We might say, “I am lonely”. But if we look more closely we might observe that a thought/emotion of loneliness is appearing within us. It is NOT the whole of what we are.
This is revolutionary! WE are not only lonely. We are the awareness in which sad feelings materialize. When a feeling emerges and we think we ARE the feeling–then this identification can flatten or send us into a whirlpool of swirling grief. There is a possibility of noticing that the grief is only PART of us.
When I see that it’s a part, I can tenderly turn toward it and gently embrace it. Putting a hand on the part of the body that is feeling blue. Whispering “There, there, loneliness, I am here.”
Seeing feelings as parts of us–not the essence of us–can ease emotional pain.
Third, an alone-Christmas is a great time for self-care. We’re being given space to love ourselves this year. What makes your heart thrill? How can you nourish yourself today and tomorrow? What little treats might you create?
Might a walk in the woods soothe and comfort? How about a brand-new jigsaw puzzle? Making art? A long soak in a hot bathtub–with bubbles! Writing in your journal? Figuring out intentions for 2021? Connecting with Spirit, in whatever way calls you?
Reaching out to others helps. Not necessarily trying to get attention to ease loneliness (although that may happen by itself). Just extending your warm heart toward others who might need a hello. A how-ya-doin’. Are you OK, my friend? How are you feeling today?
Tomorrow we’ll say Merry Christmas or Happy Holy-days or I love you to family and friends near and far. Some of us will thank God for social media that allows this connection. Others will praise Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, telephones.
Finally, notice goodness. Goodness shines all around, usually in the most ordinary of moments. Yes, loneliness may be arising, but goodness also shows its face dozens upon dozens of times in a day. Notice! The coffee tastes soooo good. Look! The skeleton trees blow in the wind. Remember! Oh, we are so warm and safe and cocooned and well-fed. Thank you for helping us to remember goodness…
I wish us all tenderness and self-care and holy attention toward any loneliness or sadness that arises in these holidays. May we see also the goodness that spreads its cheer around us, even when and if lonely feelings arise.
Much love, Kathy
Day 68 of a seventy-five day journey to connect more deeply with God, Spirit, Holy, Love…to explore “What the Heart Knows” during the waning days of 2020.