This weekend I slipped into town to buy essentials: milk, bird seed, vitamins, and pick up a package at the post office. Everywhere… people driving, people standing in endless lines in overheated stores, patient, resigned. Displays weighted down with a land-fill worth of plastic poinsettias, ornaments and wreathes.The unmistakable holidays are approaching crowdfeel.
It was a shock. Oh really? Are we supposed to start partying – read: consuming – now? Turn up the music and buy buy buy?
I felt a jolt of revulsion and an immediate desire to reel in my lust for shiny new objects this season. I saw suddenly that I could sift through my possessions and find the perfect gift for my friends among my treasures. ( How many scarves do I own?) I determined to steer clear of celebrity gossip and the photos of them in their envy me sucker lifestyle.
So I began thinking about gifts, and how when I was a little girl, maybe eight-years-old, I made my mother a coupon book for her birthday…a half-dozen small slips of paper I carefully cut out and measured against a real dollar bill and then stapled together. I don’t remember what I was offering her, but I do remember that there was a new gift on each page, an offering of myself in the only coin of the realm I had. I also don’t remember if she ever redeemed a coupon, unlikely but who knows.
Which led to think about the offering of oneself to another. How in the offering of an open mind, free from the habitual judgment, the snap assessment, I’ve been humbled, blown away more times than I can count by the sheer beauty, wisdom and courage of people I might have otherwise consigned to the dank dark filing cabinet of my hubris.
I’m thinking about the times when I’m scared, tired, anxious, when life gives my nervous system a shove over the edge and I become critical and snappish, how blessed those times are when I hold my acid tongue. An offer of peace not war.
I’m thinking about how we are expected, especially during the holiday season, to offer gifts to others, when the small self inside, you know the one, the one who is often lonely, afraid, frozen with an inexplicable grief, waits for our attention, for one small page of a coupon book torn out and offered with an open hand.
As the days grow shorter I am yielding to the darkness so like a caress in the night, letting it seduce me into my own depth and shadow where all healing is possible, where our brokenness is how our tribe, our chosen family, recognize and embrace us, where our raw vulnerability is the crucible in which we are made whole by our surrender, where our tears and sweat water the the seeds of our belonging, and where choosing love is the question, and always the answer.