I don’t know about you but I’m finding myself appreciate Christmas even more than usual this year. Not in some of the usual ways, agreed, but from the point of view of really noticing what really shines out as just so important to my heart (over my head). Like, I stop in the doorframe of a room as my gaze falls on the fairy-lit green garland around the fireplace and my eyes (and heart) are completely arrested by the scene, so a deep love and appreciation for “home” and all it encompasses washes over me along with a stillness and depth that speaks not of emptiness but of the fullness of all that matters in life. There is no doubt in me that, when things become more open again, there is a part of me that will be ready to unfurl the wings of being-ness “out in the world” even more so than ever before, but it all begins here rather than this being some sort of obsolete, cancelled time; a parody of its former self. In some ways, I sense this year is being allowed to get even closer to its original purpose and this more inner-focused bent I am noticing is at the very heart of it…
For me, when I respond so to that domestic view, as though it is somehow holy, its because its layered with all the memories of family times spent as the children were growing up around that very fireplace and, rather than allow myself to plunge into grief that they are not with us now, I feel myself ignite with the glowing certainty my daughter and I are planning to video call each other (again) later today…and (again) tomorrow morning when we open presents; that we hardly seem to get through a few hours these days without “pinging” cheerful, or heartfelt, messages to each to other and, even when quiet, there is a developing telepathy that only this year could have highlighted, since the noise of life all-too easily drowned it out in all the years before. Yes, the more we are so-called apart, the more we have opportunity to explore the virtual realities of our connections to one another, the outside-of-linearity psychic wavelengths that take us deeper than the small talk; and I notice this now with many people in my life. There is a good handful of people not seen in person during the whole of this year that are even more real and present in my consciousness now than they ever were and for that I am so very grateful. See how we grow new skills when we are cornered? This is how we are, its not all about the physical presence and never was.
So, as my daughter wrote in her tear-pricking Christmas card, we feel closer to each other than ever this year…paradoxically…yet we still, also, have all the memories so that she is always “here” with me when she is “there”. To dwell on them isn’t, for me, to feel morbid or retrospective but to appreciate deeply in the here and now. It’s like I’m unpacking, slowly one-by-one, all the many nuggets of memory made in such a rush when they “happened” only, this year, I have had them all over again, slowly savouring them, polishing them off, melding them into the essence of “my life”, full of love and precious things, and which is current; the very fuel of the fire that is the “me” that I now offer to the world as I am. It gives me stamina and belief, a deep trust and optimism to hold this fire within me, so to allow myself to plummet into jadedness would be to damp that fire down and deeply disrespect all of those precious times that are still held inside my heart since, in having them, I know I am fortunate indeed. Nothing, no external circumstance, could ever alter that inner reality; it is all part of my fabric.
So, the fact some of the external rudiments of life have been curtailed, again, doesn’t send me into tailspin but allows me to go deeper into the gratitude and appreciation of what I already have, which includes a time-layered love that is always “of the now.” Even love that was expressed ten, fifteen years ago of more, is still mine “now” because love never dies, so I can dial into that and bask in it; can use it to raise in me the powerful frequency from which I manifest my very next steps forwards.
As I enacted the annual ritual of having a “big baking day” yesterday, on the day before Christmas Eve as ever, it stuck me more than usual that the reason I do this, which is not my around-the-year norm (to spend several hours with my hands in flour, processing edible creations in and out of the oven, one after the other, on some sort of manic production line, singing all the time as I do it) is that it makes me feel so close to my mum, even though this will be my 25th Christmas without her. It was something we always did together, even when I went away to university and came back for just a handful of days, yet she would always save for me the task of decorating of the cake and we would make batches of mince pies and sausage rolls as we chattered in the kitchen to the warmth of the oven and the music on the white-floury cassette player. Now, no Christmas cake (a tradition I had to give up with most of its ingredients) but making my version of things we used to make together is like a portal through time as I play my Christmas music and wipe the occasional tear whilst laughing and hamming up the singing, smearing pastry mix down my face (my husband is used to the scenario).
As ever, yesterday, I could feel her right beside me and frequently felt my eyes prick with happy appreciation of that link between me and her, my daughter and I, and all three of us together in our wonderful similarities (and glorious differences…), though those two never met. Somehow, I’m getting closer to the rootbed of such timeless feelings this year than when there was a lot of other distraction going on and they are immense, and expansive, offering such a powerful sense of how we are bigger than “all this that is going on”….yes, we are all SO MUCH BIGGER than it all, though we so quickly allow ourselves to feel small and defeated when we get carried away by all the sad and hopeless stories that are relentlessly hurled at us in order to keep us down; when we measure our lives in busyness, “normalness” and tradition and our idealisation of “things” when its the state of beingness that underlies them that really matters. Right now, I am being the best version of me and those that I love are being the best version of them and we feel connected in an unconditional place; that’s all that really matters. I won’t say its perfect, I have my down moments, things can be so challenging and I am a worrier when I let myself go but, mostly, I can sense all the ways that I have expanded in consciousness (rather than becoming more constricted than usual…) this last year. I have learned, amongst many things, that until we throw off bitterness or sense of victimhood at any level, we can only affect the outward impression of freedom, whatever our circumstances and, likewise, the reverse is true…we are entirely free just as soon as soon as we know this to be so.
The thing is, when we are, in many senses, locked down into a more constrained version of our lives, it’s not really a prison unless we say its so. I only have to think of Nelson Mandela (and I often do in this context) to KNOW its not so. Our best times yet lie just the other side of such a period, just as long as we don’t succumb to all the misery and woe, the popular mindset of “its all crap, cancel Christmas because its not really happening to our expectations” that we hear on the grapevine by those lamenting busier, more “normal” lives. It is most certainly happening, just as long as we say it’s happening and I, for one, won’t let anyone else decide that for me, since it’s a matter of the heart and a personal state, not a product to “have Christmas”. Winter solstice has long been my spiritual time, when I embrace all the mystery and potential of the universe, and Christmas is above all about love and deep appreciation, a celebration of what I already have, of family and home, a time for kindness and beneficence, of gratitude for all the precious little things that come so freely from nature and which, without the renewal of such gratitude, are all too easily taken for granted or destroyed. No one can take those feelings away from me; they are part of the very fabric of who I am and I take them all too seriously to consider allowing them a year off because of material circumstance.
Perhaps its because I have always preferred a quieter life, finding most value in that, that I struggle less than some people but its also this deep knowing, as follows…When we embrace going deep into what seems like a constricted state where all seems dark and limited, the very thoughts and images we have from within that state fuel our next iteration; like requests sent out from the full menu of the universe into the crucible of creation. Not a day goes by when I don’t send out the request for my own healing and the healing of this entire planet before I go to sleep at night and at many other opportunities, and I piece together in my mind and senses images and feelings of what that reality might look like, as best I can, to send forth with my request. That, combined with the fuel of so much love and gratitude for people, nature, a moment’s winter sun glinting off wet leaves on my walk, all the birds that come to my garden, the way light and shadow transform the familiar, a zillion little moments of wonderment and joy that come from keeping all my senses open, the sheer awe of noticing how my body regenerates, how things grow back, how nature renews and thrusts forwards, basically feeling so much appreciation for all of life, every minor miracle of continuation and renewal, makes a powerful basis for what I refer to as “imaginal behaviour”.
Because, when we do this, with trust and surrender, what we spark into life are our imaginal cells, just like the caterpillar has this very type of cell at work (look it up!), busy recreating its entire form into its future self, even as it lies there tightly bound and all-but imploding into wholesale darkness and mess inside its cocoon; only, the dismemberment of familiarity occurring inside there isn’t its doom taking shape, but the beginning…of what? Of something entirely new. When we spark those imaginal cells to life with our appreciation, the authenticity of our hearts and our LOVE, its as though we project the very essence of what we imagine, from the higher frequency of those places, onto some sort of vision board that starts to manifest as our future world; by sparking into life dormant DNA codes that were just waiting to be called upon. Just as the caterpillar summons to life new codes of beingness from the mass of disintegration that it has been undergoing during its darkest hour, we also summon forth new brightly colour wings on which to take to the skies, making our old land-lubbing world seem drab and so limited by comparison. At that point, will we still cry for the old “normal” or will we be so glad we kept going with our “unfounded” optimism through the mire?
But first we have to believe in this potential. First, we have to know…and I mean really know and TRUST…that our thoughts and focus make up our future. When we sit here licking the thorn in our paw for too long, the grim world of disappointment, of loss, of jadedness, of defeatism becomes our reality with all-too concrete-like qualities which, having found those prepared to join us in our woe, are only confirmed to us by the consensus of opinion we surround ourselves with in our daily conversations and newsfeed confirming that “these are all the ways life is now vile and stuck; life has lost all its meaning and joy”. Or, we go into our selves, our inner world and our domestic world, our heart and hearth this Christmas. It always fascinates me how “hearth”, such an enigmatic word, is a combination of both heart and earth, as in to draw our lofty heart down from the realms of the idealised (unrealised) so as to transform its visions into our manifest reality (realised); there is no more powerful, alchemical place for shifting worlds than that in which we spend all our time living and loving day after day. So we count all our blessings, noticing all the little things, seeing as with new eyes that are really the same eyes we always had, only now we have had the time to clear them, blinking away the slurry of a life too rushed, too external, too materially fixated in order to see clearer what is really and truly of value to our hearts, beyond any question of a doubt.
As we upgrade our perception of the world, so it upgrades its perception of us because it is as though we ourselves are reimagined into different form, different setting….one that feels almost immediately better and which starts to manifest, well, who know what just the other side of this darkest before the dawn moment, but lets not close down the sun before it starts to rise on a brand new day. Christmas, after all, is all about (re) birth.
Wishing you all such a peaceful, heart-centred and quietly rejuvenating Christmas and New Year.