I haven’t written for a while because I’ve been down with pneumonia, followed by a SIBO infection. I have lacked energy and inspiration for many weeks now. The holidays are always a difficult time for me. Surrounded by all of the candy, goodies, treats and sumptuous food I cannot eat, I am reminded of how abnormal I am. It’s easy to feel sorry for myself. It’s difficult to resist the urge to hide in the shadows of depression and self-pity. But, as I am surrounded by food, I realize that I am also surrounded by family and friends. I focus on the love I have for each one of them. I stay busy cooking for them and trying to make their holiday memorable and, soon enough, I find myself happy and connected once again. I am reminded that the reason we forget the gifts we get but remember the gifts we give is because giving is exponentially more rewarding than getting.
If God is love, then it must follow, as day follows night, that loving connects us not only to one another but also to God. So if you want to feel the reality of the Christmas spirit then focus on loving, listening and serving those around you. As I child I was devastated to learn the truth about Santa Claus. But then I matured and evolved and discovered, as an adult, the joy of being Santa Claus. Santa Claus was alive once more! As a spiritually immature individual–a spiritual “child”–I was devastated to discover all of the flaws and imperfections in the Church, in religion in general, and most of all, in people. Also, battling years of intense suffering, it rocked me to my core to learn that God was not who or what I had believed him to be. But then I matured and evolved and discovered, as a spiritual adult, the joy of being. Being love, that is. God was alive once more!
Just as you can mediate the spirit of Christmas for others by being Santa Claus or just being your best self for a week or so each year, you can have that abiding joy and spirit all year long by choosing to mediate the presence and reality of God for others. By choosing to be the “adult” in every situation and by focusing on bringing joy to others you can, once again, discover the magic of living … of being human. This is the only thing that enables me to endure life on a feeding tube and life without food.
Be the one that reaches out. Be the one that mends, rather than nurtures, grudges. Be the one to say “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong.” Be the bigger person.
I recently heard from a reader who had been in conflict with a neighbor for years. After reading my book she asked for advice on what she could do to start the process of reaching out to mend the rift. I suggested she start with a smile, then maybe a wave and then, perhaps, a gift. The plan was implemented without immediate results. Then, just a few weeks ago, this reader reported that she took this neighbor some bread and a Christmas ornament. She said that the neighbor was completely shocked. I asked, “How did it feel.” She replied, “It felt really good.” And that’s the point. If you want to feel good, do good. Be good. You cannot control what others think of you, but you can always control what you think of others. And that means you don’t have to control others to control your happiness.
You don’t need food to be happy. I’m living proof of that. You don’t need money to be happy. I think I’m also living proof of that. All you need is to find the true “you”–the “you” that is not tied to ego, pride and image. The “you” that emerges from behind the shadow of the false self and does incredibly good and wonderful things.
If you need God’s embrace, then embrace another. To hug another human being is to embrace the divine.
If you cannot see God’s presence in the world, then look deeply into another person’s eyes and listen intently. You will soon see the light of God and hear his voice whisper to your soul. You will feel a connection. You will realize that you are not alone in this world.
May God bless you this Christmas season and through0ut the coming year! May you find peace and contentment through letting go of the false liberators of “success” and “prestige” by becoming like that lowly little babe born in Bethlehem more than two millennia ago, who changed the world forever by giving … not getting. May the spirit of Jesus abide with you now and for always.