Shine in Me

Such a deep, dark time of year. It’s hard to believe that the days (since Thursday) have already begun lengthening ever so slightly, a minute or so each day.

From the seasons’ turning, we know that an extended darkness doesn’t spell the end of everything. It’s just a cycle. And we ourselves have the agency to find and nurture the light.

On Wednesday night a Solstice fire gave us a chance to turn within. The flames reduced our scribbled papers and sage sprigs to ash as we released ourselves from the weight of the previous year.

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Photo by rahul rekapalli, via flickr commons.

Tonight my Jewish friends light the Menorah for the first day of Hanukkah. Meanwhile many Christian folks will go to church for a traditional Christmas Eve candlelight service.

Tomorrow, Christmas Day, we ourselves will celebrate with turkey and dressing shared around our table, and some modest gift-giving afterwards. The lights in our front windows will stay on all day and into the evening, a symbol of welcome.

These traditions call on our highest selves to be kind, to be intentional, to be generous, to be grateful.

Light of the World, Shine on Me, the song says.

I suggest a small change. Shine IN Me. After all, we all carry the seed of Divinity within.

Consider this Facebook post from Jul Bystrova, founder of Era of Care, who just returned home from supporting the water protectors at Standing Rock Indian Reservation:

I find myself often comparing this time to the Lord of the Rings. The darkness grows, destroys and seems impossible to stop. But we do well to remember that we were returned to the light by simple hobbits with tremendous courage. We are those simple hobbits.

Whatever your spiritual tradition: shine on, my friends.

Every Day

I’m not one to do Christmas in a big way. In fact I can get quite tired of the holiday, which seems by turns tawdry, labor-intensive, and loaded. Since we don’t have children, there’s no pressure to create a memorable and magic Christmas, or to buy a lot of guilt-inducing gadgetry. I mostly stick to the humble and homespun kind of gift, like these lumpen loaves.

Mesquite bread, made with chili peppers and cilantro.

Mesquite bread, made with chili peppers and cilantro.

Still, I can get into the (self-created) pressures of the season as much as anybody. Something about the holidays hits all my “not enough” buttons.

So when someone said to me recently, “I think every day should be Christmas,” my immediate thought was something along the lines of “heck, no,” only saltier. But she was talking generosity, of course, not pressure and parties.

And this morning, when I woke up with a sense of excitement (even after all these years, like a kid!), I thought about that. What if every morning, we all woke up suffused with joy, anticipation, and love? What if every day was devoted to family and friends, and feeling so abundant that we share our gifts all around?

What if we kept the wonderment, the generosity, the magic—and lost the commercialism?

Then every day would be like Christmas.