It has been a while since I have had such contentment during “the holidays.” The season started with a perfect little fir tree and ornaments, one of my favorite traditions. Over the years I have made it a habit to buy an ornament from the places I travel, and my sister usually includes one in her Christmas package to me as well. There is a story, memory or sentiment attached to almost every one, and so the trimming of the tree, door knobs and kitchen cabinet pulls set a cheerful tone for the rest of December.
I have a lot of Christmas music and so I can listen to many different songs and genres, not tiring of any one particular tune. And of course there is always Pandora, which adds even more options to sing along to.
I sent out cards next, something I have not had the desire to do for the past several years. I didn’t even mind the extra postage required for some of the square ones I mailed. I let myself stretch this sometimes tedious task out over several weeks, addressing a few each evening or while sitting at a coffee shop over the weekends. Thankfully only one trip to the mall was required, as I had been buying small gifts throughout the fall as I ran across this or that item that reminded me of a loved one.
I even had the inspiration and energy to bake: crescents, apricot bars and magic cookie bars (the kind with the graham cracker crust topped with pecans, chocolate chips and coconut, cemented together with condensed milk). I tried out a new recipe as well, a ginger crisp. I found the note card tucked away in my recipe box. I recognized my high school handwriting and I think I got the recipe from my maternal grandmother, but I had never tried making it. It’s a keeper.
My dear friends Dawn D. and Tim had come to Charlotte for Christmas Eve to watch their new baby grandson and give his parents a litle break. We had planned for them to stop in for lunch with me on their way back home on Christmas day. I made a tomatillo pork stew and went to Compare, a local Latin grocery store, for freshly made corn tortillas. The weather cooperated with plenty of sunshine and we enjoyed coffee and homemade toasted coconut cream pie out on my porch.
It was the first time Dawn and Tim had been able to come spend time with me at my condo. I wanted to make a good impression, and I, being the good obsessive-compulsive freak that I am, had cleaned my place as if President Obama and Michelle were coming for a visit.
So I was surprised the next morning when I was walking from my living room back into the kitchen to see a little dust bunny and a small part of a leaf on the hardwood floor. The sun was beaming in through the French doors and casting a warm light, bright and clear, on what I hadn’t seen when cleaning.
As I bent down to pick up the debris, the phrase, “…the white light of the Holy Spirit” came to mind.
Over a year ago, a spiritual mentor had suggested that I pray the following every day before beginning to meditate: “May the white light of the Holy Spirit fill me and others.” I have to be honest that I balked a little at first when she made this suggestion to me. Although I was raised as a Southern Baptist, I have adopted a broader and more eclectic spiritual perspective over the years. Invoking the Holy Spirit initially suggested a return to the constraint of a more fundamental definition of religion that I no longer resonate with. And a little hurt and resentment still linger deep inside over some of the beliefs that I was indoctrinated with that damaged my sense of integrity as a child and young adult (i.e., the idea that I am a “sinner” and at my very core bad, that I could not trust my personal intuitive nature for guidance but needed to submit to a higher male authority in order to not be led astray, or that I was immoral simply for being gay, to name a few). In the end, truth is truth, whether written and found in the Bible, spoken by the Buddha or in the text of a psychology book. I do still believe in a Higher Power that is undefinable. I want to connect to this Source in any way that I am able to, and I began to soften and welcome the prayer each day as I said it out loud.
That Christmas morning I came into a deeper knowing as the sunlight created a moment of transcendence for me. The beauty and simplicity of this prayer is real and powerful. I will develop and grow as things come to light in my life. I want to be patient when someone I love does something I don’t like or hurts me, and I can seek to bring to light what is needed or to understand what is causing our disconnection. As a therapist, I don’t have to judge or determine what is best for another person, but rather I can trust and pray that light will show up and lead the way for us to work together towards his or her healing.
Indeed, may the white light of the Holy Spirit fill me and others.