Well, it’s tomorrow in Australia and the world has not ended, but there is more than enough upset for this holiday season. Not only do the holidays bring out the usual dysfunction of families, but an unending thirst for the material, rather than the spiritual rewards of the season. Peace on Earth is sung by many on my Pandora Christmas station, yet I traverse between a calm followed by a nameless agitation that grabs me the moment I leave the safety of our home. It seems the world is becoming more and more dangerous. My heart grieves for dead children and their families, the poisoning of our planet for profit, while millions starve. Our problems seem overwhelming. I wonder what impact one person could possibly have to change the world. As an individual how do I live a life that nurtures others, the planet and myself? How do I stay authentic to my beliefs?
In the small microcosm of my life, I look for signs of hope. How have I made a difference? Since I moved to the country, my greatest teachers have been nature, the seasons, and the land. If we care for the land, the land offers up the food that both feeds us and provides our livelihood. That clean, wholesome food is taken to the farmers market and sold to people that care about what they feed themselves and their families. It’s a life that is simple, focused and real. Farming itself is a practice of faith. We are not in control. We place a seed in the ground and have faith that it will grow. I believe that we often receive what we put into the world; a sort of what goes around, comes around. When I am kind to people, it follows that people are generally kind to me. But what happens when people are unkind? What happens when there is drought or deluge or crop failure? I believe this is when our faith is really tested, when our attitudes matter.
It seems to me that faith, the belief in things unseen, is about the things in life that cause us to question, to change, to grow. I don’t believe that the challenges in life are judgments, but opportunities to understand the world and ourselves more fully. How do we cultivate our better selves when we are up against our fears and the rapid pace of change? We are all flawed human beings; there are no saints among us. How do we nurture our inter-connectedness? How do we come to realize what happens to one of us, happens to us all? My greatest challenge is to keep my heart open, to feel pain when someone is hurting, to look at the glass as ‘half-full’.
As I enter the quiet time of winter, our pace is slower. The lands rests, and in the same sense, so do I. Dormancy is a gift. I can’t assimilate life without periods of quiet. There is time for long morning coffee and deep listening. Clocks tick, fires burn and hearts beat. It is a season where less is more. This resting period is a time to replenish both my physical and emotional being. In this quiet stillness I hear a small voice say, “Your faith is measured by the wideness of your heart.” One of my favorite poets, Stanley Kunitz said it in a different way: “Live in the layers, not on the litter.” The peace I sought is found.
The mummified god of my childhood
speaks to me from beyond the grave,
whispers faint language
encased in the smallest seed.
Exhausted, I endlessly sift
through wheat and chaff,
waiting to hear some coded message.
In the welcoming silence of winter,
I am content and cocooned.
My needs simple,
I suspend my search for meaning
to burrow into the softest sheets
and dream of you.