When I think of you my love, Where is it that I go? To the past, to the beginning, to the end…Read More
Hello Dear Friends
I’ve just returned from grocery shopping, it’s a beautiful summer day and I wanted to get out and back home quickly. Many of the children from private schools are on the loose and public schools will finish next week and then the shops will be even more chaotic, yet filled with laughter and silly antics the kids get up to.
It’s summer and they are free for about 6 weeks to enjoy themselves – I’ll go out early to shop so I can enjoy a quieter experience while they sleep in...The beginning of summer is filled with anticipation, swimming, skateboarding, bike riding and posing as if in the fashion mags.
The beginning of summer is also Christmas time and I love Christmas, probably because it evokes happy memories for me of my family, my mother in particular, my children growing up, and now my grandchildren and granddogs. I love the anticipation of it all.
In my mother’s day (born 1924), Christmas was a gentle affair, not as much bother and expectation as we seem to have today: Church, a lunch and maybe a gift for her; a much leaner time as they’d just experienced tough times through war and a depression.
The Christmas of my childhood was of hot food proudly prepared by mum, and the kitchen turned into a lovely dining space with lunch for many (and then adults going to sleep on the couch). I remember one year our Pa gave us coins to go to the shops and we all happily ran off to spend, then realising we’d been tricked to give the adults sleep time; the shops were closed, of course! We spent the rest of the day a bit bored, as it was too hot to go outside and adults could be grumpy, Christmas afternoon back in the day
The down side to the day was alcohol, and this could turn happy to disaster quickly some years but that’s not the memory I wish to share today.
It always seemed to be a hot day back then, I don’t remember any rain, but I do remember a Christmas Eve electrical storm that I have not seen the likes of since. The lightening had a blue tinge and it lit up the roads like daylight, and my Nanna screamed with each thunder she was so scared.
It can be hit and miss with weather now; cold cloudy days often greet us on the 25th; climate change perhaps?
What got my attention this morning was the silliness of the retailers with Ho Ho Ho, Deck The Halls, Merry Christmas sales splashed across windows. Enticing me to buy clothes, stationary, food, newspapers, coffee
It just struck me, like that Christmas Eve lightening of so long ago, the stage of life lit up so clearly. It used to be fun to go out and buy gifts for my darlings, it was fun to sit and watch the light and joy on the children’s faces while I had a coffee, and mused about wrapping the gifts for placement under the tree. Mum and I would eat little Christmas treats and sit and laugh together.
But today, what I saw was over the top commercialism and no one seemed happy. The people walk as if in a dream and the children cry and want and it evokes a little sadness in me for the days gone by. The shops are dressed in pretend snow while we swelter, and people’s heart lights seemed to be dim.
Don’t get me wrong I do love a bit of retail, I love a coffee and a chat, I love the carols if they are not too loud, but I don’t like manufactured joy and I wonder if that’s why the heart lights are not bright anymore (to me).
Somewhere between my mum’s childhood, my own and where I am today, Christmas spirit has been corrupted. There was a place for the faithful in Christmas and a place for the secular in the family sharing holiday time, but Christmas seems to be all about the retail sector at this point in time. Wonder where Christmas is to you and if you feel a little like me?
It’s a big time for the churches; many will go for their once a year visit, drop a bit of coin in the tray and receive a blessing, walking away feeling all the richer for it.
And the parishes will be looking after many of the poor and lonely and sad who will come to seek out a bit of food, a shoulder to cry on and a blessing and maybe they too will walk away feeling a wee bit comforted.
It’s a special time for many families to get together and spend the day, catching up with extended family that they may not have had opportunity to experience throughout the year. They’ll eat too much, exchange gifts and feel the joy as it passes from one hand to the other, a moment of great sharing and beauty. I still love this Christmas spirit.
For some, they don’t want gifts, saying/feel it is wanton commercialism and instead just want the warmth, love, and connectedness to the family they love. Christmas can be enjoyed with material gifts equally as much as with sacred gifts of love, compassion and joy.
For others though, family can be troublesome, dangerous and Christmas for them can/is a time of fear, sadness (and for many, poverty). The pressure to be pleasant, joyful, buy presents when little spare cash is available, if at all, must be horrendous. Alcohol just like back in my childhood days can wreak further havoc here too.
My family of origin was poor, and yet I really had no concept of this – my mum made fabulous dresses for my sister and I, with maybe a doll or game was wrapped with her special love (she had an abundance of it for us); I loved Christmas morning!
As I walked through town today, all of these thoughts came to mind. Whether you are of the faithful kind and go to church to celebrate the birth of Jesus, or of the secular kind who celebrates the spirit of Christmas in your own special way, I hope everyone of us can escape the need to buy buy buy.
Retailers have coopted Christmas big time, and it might suit us to buy, but I hope we can all stop and reflect upon our choices – not get caught up by their manufactured cheer to help their bottom line. Be kind to yourself; buy within a budget and with coin (rather than or instead of notes or card)
We don’t really need to buy gifts, we just need each other and to share freely the one gift that is always ours to give, love. I do love to receive a gift or two, I am still a child that way.
The love you need might be found in the church Christmas service with friends or loved ones by your side.
It might be all wrapped up in a gift bought and offered with joy, the love might be a hug and a kiss on both cheeks, or/and a meal shared, there is no measure and all is thoughtful and compassionate.
The spirit of Christmas is a reminder to love, to enjoy and aren’t we lucky here in Australia? It is also the joyful beginning of summer holidays, so get out there and have some fun. If you are in the colder climates, enjoy the warmth of the winter coats and the joy of eggnog by the fire just like in the Christmas movies and on cards! Anytime of year is the time of year to love and enjoy the spirit of Christmas.
Enjoy yourself no matter what you do, what you buy, where you are and spread the love and kindness from your heart today tomorrow and always.
Lots of Love to You
If you are experiencing troubles and would like to talk things through with me, go here
Over Christmas there will be helplines available, here are three major Australian helpers
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Local Council and church offices will have a list of venues for Christmas lunches, and crisis food and housing
To become a widow is to set out onto a path unknown. We don’t choose to be widows, yet here we are! We are unsure of the path we find ourselves on and we haven’t a clue of where we are going or who we are anymore Yet still, here we are.Read More
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The magpie called to me just now You can't imagine the amount of time I spend in the past before I realise, and present myself, once again to the present. It doesn't matter how many years of practice one spends in meditation, it still happens, you just make your way back quicker as time goes by. I think I have turned it into an art form :)
The truth with loss is, you are so connected at the time to giving comfort, to tending to their needs that you are totally unaware of yourself as witness to the suffering.
The witness speaks her words to me today and I am rendered speechless, for in that moment I realise his quiet suffering... Oh My Lord it's so hard to remember that.
The past takes me back because I miss him, even the suffering was something we shared.
I close my eyes and become aware of my inner world as I listen to the outer, to the birds, to the cars and I feel overwhelmed by sadness still, until the magpie calls me.
Above my seat the magpie sits high on a branch and sings so gently, so quietly and quite unlike the usual.
I have travelled to many countries that have these birds, but none sing like the Australian magpie. And I have never heard a magpie sing as gently as this one just now.
It is a call to Grace, a call of remembrance. Not of the suffering I witnessed but of who I Am and where I Am.
The family of magpies and I didn't get along a couple of years back, they used to swoop my head whenever I went out, and one day while I was on the back porch it knocked my sun hat right off my head, they are fearsome birds. It bewildered me because I was one that felt birds talked to me; if a bird swoops near my car as I drive, I take notice of the road ahead and this once saved my life when I saw just in time, a ladder on the road.
We are all friends now because of a magic moment. The female magpie kept flying at me one afternoon until I realised she wasn't swooping, she was alerting me to something. I took a look around and her baby was caught up in fencing cloth, a little like shadecloth and it's leg was injured.
I was really scared but knew I had to help so I covered it's head and cut the cloth - off it flew. Even though the birds weren't happy sharing this property, they knew I would help them in their hour of need. I always felt the sacredness of that moment.
Today, I know the family are returning the favour; they are helping me with their song - A Call To Grace.
It is 11am on the 20th July 2014, the sun is shining, I sit on my rocker facing north east, I see red geraniums, I hear the roar of the motor bikes on their Sunday ride and I smile.
Today I Am with you magpies, out into the garden I go and thank you for your gentle reminder of the moment - It is so not 4 years ago, it is NOW!
I hope you find today is a beautiful Sunday wherever you are.
xxx WendyJoy xxx
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I was reading the Tao Te Ching, 81 Verses By Lao Tzu, Sacred Texts Translation and Commentary by Ralph Alan Dale 2002 and came across Verse 43 and felt inspired to share it with you. It has such relevance for today and yet it is believed to have been written around the 6th BCE, most likely by those devoted to his teachings (as he was known for the simplicity of being rather than instructing in words, or deeds I would suppose).
THE VALUE OF MINIMUMS
That which is most tender
can overcome that which is most rigid.
That which has least substance
can penetrate that which has least space
Acting without deliberate action
and teaching without uttering a word
are rarely practiced.
So few find their way
to the Great Integrity, (Tao)
Never are words such as these so true, as when you have children in your life. They hear every word, but is that what they follow? No, they are taught without words, and generally speaking their tantrums (rigid) are controlled by the gentlest of actions (tenderness).
Have you found people fear telling the truth for fear of hurting another? Misguided love I suppose. Many others fear telling the truth for fear of repercussions. Politicians around the globe seem to have made it into an art form, weird isn't it, as it's almost expected of them?
Well I am often inspired by the opposites in life and Verse 43 today has had me thinking, even the name of Verse 43 is interesting, as we don't always consider minimums to be of any value in these days of up-size.
Also I was aware of my actions and non verbal communication. I had the music on, then I realised the beautiful silence that had filled my room. I sat and listened to some friends who dropped by, and although I hardly spoke a word my body spoke for me. My day was filled with such moments of awareness; very entertaining.
Well that was my day! A mystical, ancient reflection on my thoroughly modern Friday. Now, what can I get up to tomorrow? And you?
Hope your weekend is a treat, lots of love
xxx WendyJoy xxx