Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stillness, Goodwill

Written Christmas morning: Having no children of my own, through whose eyes to watch the day unfold, the morning allows me time to embrace the stillness of the day. All around the world, like a rippling echo of wonder and cheer as the planet turns, we wake and rise in waves of cheer and excitement. For this reason, above all others, today is a sacred day, where more hearts are turned to joyous purpose than any other. If we could wish for one thing, if we could set our minds to one singular purpose en masse today, I have to believe a miracle could happen. I believe, with that much energy, we could manifest peace.

If we can feel what we feel in our hearts today, why, then, can we not extend that emotion out to all our days? It’s a philosophy I espouse, rather than a reality, based on the bodhisattva teachings I have studied and the Buddhist practice of LovingKindness. It’s a life path begun in a UU church, where the belief that every person in the world has worth and dignity laid foundation in my heart.

Last week, I was checking out while holiday shopping when an elderly woman at the head of the line pulled out a checkbook. The woman in front of me immediately started huffing and stamping her foot, displaying the credit card-at-the-ready waiting in her hand. The elderly woman got anxious and made a mistake on the check and hard to start over, which made the woman in front of me mutter under her breath about how she should be allowed to go ahead of people who aren’t ready to check out because she had important places to be…
If the impatient woman had just been patient in the first place, the elderly woman would have been checked out before she would have felt the need to utter those words. It’s something I see every day and it amazes me that people don’t understand that they’re trying to make themselves feel better at the expense of someone else. It is disheartening to see that we’re trying to teach our children not to be bullies without realizing that we’re perpetuating the habits in small ways we don’t understand. We can learn to see. We can re-pattern the way our brains think. I’ve been doing it for the last three years, widening the field around me that is my world, making me feel more strongly a part of it and taking everything much less personally.

It is not enough for us to honor our ancestors. This is a theme you will hear me repeat. We have a responsibility to begin being good ancestors for our future descendants. Now. Most people think about their descendants as their children, and their grandchildren, and those who come after. For me, as someone who doesn't have children, I see the world's children and my descendants. Every choice I make will impact their lives. I put the faces of my nieces and nephew on that swath of descendants before me, so that the notion is important.

I want them to live in a better world than the one I live in. Just like my ancestors wanted for me.

At the holidays, we have the noblest opportunity to treat the world and our fellow companions in it the way we wish to see it. We speak of kindness and goodwill and we think we do our best. But again, if we can act on that conscience for a few days, why can we not carry it with us into more? For many of us, the answer to that lies in the stillness we cultivate for Christmas, and the fact that we lose it as the calendar rolls into the new year. Then what?

If you have never walked a labyrinth, I highly recommend it as a tool towards stillness. Walk the circuits with intention of letting go. Release your burdens as you make each turn and let your mind open towards that calm eye inside you that can weather the storm around you of bills and responsibility, and mad cacophony of noise emitted from various electronic devices. At the center, be at peace, and remember the stillness of a snowy morning. Remember that the world turns forward and the paused traffic resumes its rat racing, but that stillness doesn't disappear from the world. It's just harder to reach. It's true. The sun may rise in the morning but the stars are still above us, blinking. They're just harder to see. You can use to find the labyrinth nearest you.

Christmas Day allows me to stop and have a cup of cocoa, and feel the world open up to the wider web, reaching out to forgotten friends and distanced loved ones. We are each stars unfurling, entwining and reconnecting, spreading our map of the universe out. We feel connected. In that connection is that feeling of calm stillness and peace, of not being alone, but being alone at the same time. For me, the loneliness fades. It's this feeling that I carry with me into the world, through all of my days an interactions with people, when I can, in both large and small ways. With it is the hope that a momentary kindness of patience might ripple out into both small and larger moments of change. Envision the world you wish to live in, and start to live it.


  1. xoxoxo :)

    So eloquently written. It's how I feel too.

  2. as a woman struggling with the decision to possibly not have children, i very much appreciate the line about all the children of the world being your descendants.

    as for patience with others - i see this in stores, and the lack of patience especially. i need to often remind myself when i am short on time and temper to find a moment to be kind to others. it helps, a lot, i think.

    but i'm also not a saint and will tell teenage boys to knock it off when they're being idiots in front of small children waiting to see Santa. :)

  3. Thank you Elizabeth. I know you have the same heart.

    Eithne, lol, I would say that teaching children how to mind and be good roll models is part of our job. Especially for people who decide not to have their own children- it really does take a village.

    I think that's why showing patience towards others is important to me. Maybe the grown-ups won't notice. Most of them don't. But a child might. Even just one child seeing and registering a kindness would make a difference to me. That would be my idealism showing itself ;-)


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