Mother Earth – Showing Us Who Is Boss

world-end-2794558_1280

I woke up to news of more of the Earth’s wrath. Fires destroying beautiful California wine country. Smoke in the sky out my window from the Anaheim hills fires maybe 30-40 miles away.

Seems like floods, fires, earthquakes ,and weapons of mass destruction or mass casualties on scales not seen in our lifetimes are an everyday occurrence these days.

Maybe it’s that information is too fast and readily available –incessant, instantaneous news cycles, vivid pictures and videos that are hard to miss, posts and panic on Facebook etc.

Maybe it was always here in 1939 and 1968 but and inbetween but we were distracted and it wasn’t in our face.

Maybe it’s not the end of the world or an empire. Maybe it’s just that we are more aware of all that is happening each day.

I want to believe it’s the ushering in of a ” New Earth” at the end of all this. I want to be optimistic. But it feels like an uphill battle these days.

Mother Earth seems awfully angry. She wants us to listen but we are stubborn. So she is screaming louder.

Or maybe. It is just the way it is supposed to be.

The firestorm moved this Jewish, spiritual girl to read “Revelations” this a.m — never previously having been a Bible reader I was curious if there was something to it, something that could give us a clue about what is happening now….

“Fallen, fallen is Bablyon the great!
It has become a dwelling place of demons
a haunt of every foul spirit
a haunt of every foul bird
a haunt of every foul and hateful beast

For all the nations have drunk
of the wine of the wrath of her fornication
and the kings of its earth have
committed fornication with her
and the merchants of the earth have
grown rich from the power of her luxury

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying
Come out of her, my people
so that you do not take part in her sins
and so that you do not share in her plagues;

for her sins are heaped as high as heaven
and God has remembered her inequities (Revelations 18: 1-4)
……

Therefore her plagues will come in a single day –
pestilence and mourning and famine –
and she will be burned with fire:
for might is the Lord God who judges her

And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they they see the smoke of he burning; they will stand far off in fear of her torment ….. (Revelations 18: 8-9)
—————
There is more about judgment day and the New Heaven and New Earth so to speak. I don’t think Earth is mad at us as individual humans. I think She is mad at our unconsciousness, our stubborness, our refusal to see the easier path of Love. Maybe she is just frustrated Herself with her inability to teach us properly. She knows no other way. Her power is in her fury. And there is so much to undo that maybe the only way is to wipe it out, to start anew or to play Her last hand – to show us who is “boss”.

Advertisements

The Book of Trump?

By Shari Sachs
I had never read or learned about the Bible when I was growing up and shied away from it when I did grow up.  As someone who was born a Jew ethnically, but raised pretty much without any religious indoctrination it seemed irrelevant. I knew the Old Testament was the Jewish people’s book but not much more than that.  I knew there was a central figure named Jesus but mostly he scared me hanging on that crucifix, blood dripping and all. And anyway somewhere along the line I got the message that us Jews were unfairly blamed for his death (as well as so many other things).

I always believed in God, but my lack of spiritual upbringing left me searching for something “missing” most of my life – a center, an anchor, a GPS system to guide me, to help me sort out moral choices.

 
For awhile I forgot about Higher Powers, however you choose to name them and the unseen figure I called “God” I used to talk to when I was a little girl.   I lived my life as most of us do. Very focused on the earthly and material attainments. Raising and providing for me and my family. For me, I truly believed that the bigger the job I had, the more money I made, the bigger my office and title was, would equate to how much I mattered (or mattering at all) and to how much people would like me.  And what other people thought was very very important.
 
About six or seven years ago though,  I began to “wake up” to my separation from my soul and the soul of life and reconnect to that guy/girl/energy I used to call God.  I remembered what I had forgot.   I learned that the physical me was just a channel for the real me, – the one connected to that Higher Source. I still was and am an earthly, human being of course and will be until I choose to leave this body – terribly flawed and all that. I still struggle with righteous choices, temptations and mostly imperfections although slightly less so than before.  Or at least I am more aware of it when I do.
 
I started seeing myself differently but I also started seeing the world differently. I learned that we are a part of IT and we belong to IT and not the other way around. I learned how we were raping this beautiful sphere of a planet that is our Mother, that which sustains us and provides for Life.  Raping it and raping it and raping it.  Just to line the pockets of a few greedy people.
 
I saw, despite the wrath of others who felt differently that each one of us, even the ugliest of us was part of one divinity. So when we called people “monsters” for heinous acts or spewed hatred we really were saying that ourselves. The bigger question for me was why would the Divine create any of this darkness at all if the Divine is Love. And the only reason I or others I talked to could come up with which still only partially satisfies me is that we need the “contrast”, the duality to even know what Love is.

Just as we are witnessing now with the throngs of regular people, all colors, ages, orientations rising up together against this stark contrast to Love that is our current President and administration –  sometimes it just seems to take extremism of one type of energy to activate the other. Otherwise we just remain complacent and leave open spaces for darker energies to occupy.

 
In her early teens, during a tumultuous time in her life when her father and I were divorcing, my daughter became a Christian – the kind of Christian that follows what Jesus really said.  She is a seeker and spreader of love.  She is a person I look up to with a strong, noble center, a person leading her life to make a difference in the lives of others, the kind of person I wish I could have been at her age.  She began to introduce me to how becoming a Christian  helped her and I began to listen.
 I didn’t become a Christian per se, I shy away from “labels” as such, but I began to be very interested in what Jesus had to say – as a revolutionary and as an ascended master. As a teacher of love, compassion, non-judgment, forgiveness. So in a way, in my heart I did become a Christian. I thought that his teachings might not be such a bad thing to follow, maybe they could serve as that guidepost, that GPS I’d been looking for my whole life. 
 
Recently, an opportunity serendipitously arose to study the Bible.  Since I never learned it I got curious what the fuss about this book was all about. And I have been stunned!  Each week I walk out of our class, and shake my head at the similarities between then and now. It’s all laid out. Right there in black and white in these sacred volumes. Over and over and over  – and over again.
The people stray, they disobey the laws of God (love, brotherhood etc), bad things happen, sometimes very bad things. So then they wake up and go back to listening to God. For awhile. Then they forget. They are human. They need another lesson. Another opportunity. For hundreds and hundreds of years they do this.
 
Until finally Jesus arrives and speaks of a new consciousness. A new way of being.
One of the participants said that “God must be really angry right now at what He is seeing”  to which the minister replied – “No, God has been around a long time, He (She/It) has seen it all, many times before.”  You see, it’s kind of a pattern…
 
Right around the time of the inauguration and its aftermath,  we were reading Samuel 1, chapter 8 Verse 10.  The  context is that the people  were in such chaos trying to rule themselves that they asked for a King. Neither God or Samuel who was the “judge” leader at the time wanted that, he wanted them to see that He was King but he told Samuel to give them what he wanted.  
So obedient as he was, Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a King.  He said (with my comments for the current day inserted )
 
“These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to his horsemen… he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands (his cabinet and the GOP)… to plow his ground (Mir a Lago?, Trump Tower??) and to reap his harvest,(business interests?) and to make his implements of war (well we all know this one) and the equipment of his chariots (his plane etc). He will take your daughters to be perfumers and bakers (loss of women’s rights). He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards (the environment) and give them to his courtiers (his rich friends and said cabinet nominees and GOP). He will take your male and female slaves (the incarcerated, the poor) and the best of your cattle and donkeys (our taxes?) and put them to his work 
 
And in that day you will cry out because of your king whom you have chosen for your selves.”
 
The last line of that passage is ” but the Lord will not answer you in that day”. I left it out because I didn’t want to scare you – or me.  But mostly its because I don’t agree.  I think our Higher Source/Self WILL answer us.  Maybe not on “that day” But it will on the day we rise to a new way of being, to a new level of consciousness where love becomes the bottom line.
Not to be too dramatic (ok yes I am being kinda dramatic because it kinda is), but I think we are witnessing the GREAT OPPORTUNITY, a turning point in the  evolution of our species and our civilization.  
The Bible speaks of an apocalypse (I haven’t got to that part of “studying” it yet myself but I heard about it  🙂 )   I know enough to know that it can be interpreted in different ways either as an event of cataclysmic proportion that causes great destruction signifying the end of the world.
  Or, it can be interpreted according to the Greek word for apocalypse which is “apocálypsis” and means “a revealing or an uncovering …  It is like a curtain or veil that is lifted so that what is behind it can be seen or the contents are suddenly disclosed.  The Book of Revelation has a similar meaning as it is an uncovering or revealing of something that was previously unseen or hidden.   It is like a curtain or veil that is lifted so that what is behind it can be seen or the contents are suddenly disclosed.  The Book of Revelation has a similar meaning as it is an uncovering or revealing of something that was previously unseen or hidden” (Jack Wellman/Patheos)
The Apocalypse could be the absolute end of the world — kaput, gone, extinct – OR it could be  the”end of the world as we know it”- the end of hate, the end of greed, the end of being separated from your Self, others and the planet, the end of profit over people, the end of war, maybe even the end of suffering??? Could it be??
So, I think this is where we are at.   We can go one way or the other. Inbetween is no longer a viable option. The veil is indeed being lifted and we are finally seeing what’s behind it.The ultimate “turning point”.   Could this be the “second coming” we have all heard about, not in the form of a person but in the lack of form, a new consciousness based on Love.  Look, look how people are rising up and above, not just the marginalized, not just the segregated or discriminated against but all of us seeing that we believe in liberty, justice, true democracy after all and willing to do something about it.
 This verse and chapter, this “Book of Trump” may not be what it appears to be. Especially to Trump and company.   It looks like it could be the demise of our democracy if not our world but it actually, in the end,  may be our saving grace.
I for one have hope.  These are truly revolutionary times
With Grace,

Shari

 

Is There Such a Thing as Being Too Free?

In the last few years, I have more freedom than I know what to do with.

It started with the “nest leaving”.  Within just a four year time span,  I experienced more than my fair share of it to include four graduations (2 daughters receiving a Bachelor Degree and a Master Degree each ), the wedding of my older daughter and- sadly – a tragic and premature death of my beloved dog.  It crescendoed with the “career leaving” – then ending after close to thirty years.

What exactly do we mean when we talk about being “free?” anyway as there are a number of nuances to its meaning.  As defined by Webster’s the word “free”  can either be a feeling – “the enjoyment of personal rights or liberty; to be exempt from external authority, interference, restriction etc. on a person’s will, thought, choice, action etc”.  or – it can also mean that something you want costs nothing, that it comes without a price.

The logical conclusion then should be that ‘freedom” by definition should be free, that there is no price to pay for it, that it comes at no cost etc.

But that’s not true is it?

We don’t get freedom for free – conversely, we hold onto to it tightly, die for it, live for it, maybe even compromise for it?

How could any state of being, of existence that is so universally coveted be attained without putting other things at stake, without fighting for it?

I think whoever decided that free also means “costs nothing” made a mistake. I think there was supposed to be a different word for something that costs nothing. Like worthless or valueless or meaningless or something like that.

Because being free definitely has a cost, it is not “free” as I was to learn the freer I became.

The summer that my oldest daughter went off to college and three years before her sister followed her, I was serendipitously led to adopting a sweet and loving little puppy. Aflie, my precious Shitzu became my third child, my constant companion who filled the empty space after my other two “babies” left the nest.

He died  – fairly tragically – four years later, just a week or so before July 4. His death and the way he died catalyzed my departure from my job of twenty years.

Freedom had always been a strong and primary personal value of mine and now here I was perched on it’s precipice, the very thing I had been seeking for so long now within my grasp.

After Alfie died , and I no longer had my job, and with my kids already gone off to school, I suddenly found myself surrounded with so much freedom that I was lost, utterly bewildered by what to do or how to be now that roles, structure and responsibility no longer defined my daily being.

I was free at last.

Free – from daily obligation and responsibility (other than to myself). Free – from titles, status, endless meetings and bosses telling me what to do. Free – from early morning and late night dog walks, from not being able to spontaneously go away. Free – from car pools, and having to leave work early, and from child rearing as a first priority.

Yes, I was “free” from all of that.

But I was also free from the sounds and laughter and hugs of children, my children, from the camaraderie of co-workers, from the financial comfort my paycheck brought, from having a reason to get up and get dressed nice everyday, and from having a nice office to go to and interesting people to interact with.

I was free from the joy my little puppy gave me.

I was so free that I was staring down a wide, open abyss without a clue where to go, what was next or how to get there. In place of the structures and routines I was used to, there was a loneliness I had never known, and an emptiness that left me breathless from the shock of no longer being needed by anyone or anything.

Suddenly, all the things that gave me a reason to get outside of myself were gone. I was left with a daily dose of love to give and no one to pour it on.

After my doggie died so close to the day we celebrate freedom, I found myself pondering “Would I have wished for freedom it if I knew the extent of the loss that accompanied it? If I had understood that it required such painful letting go of that which defined me and gave me something to love and care for?

Be careful what you wish for as they say. Because if you are not careful, the price of freedom could very well be more costly than the very freedom that is being sought.

 Yet, I still simultaneously pursue and resist freedom. And I still want to be both free and safe at the same time. I have no conclusions except that perhaps living in conundrums and questions is precisely what individual freedom is all about. And, if that’s the case, I have more than my fair share of it.

And on that note, Happy Independence Day

With Grace,

SHARI

 

Love and the Bottom Line

photo indulgy via tattooedbuddha.com

photo indulgy via tattooedbuddha.com

http://thetattooedbuddha.com/love-the-bottom-line-a-dream-about-right-livelihood/

I have a dream. And I also had a dream. About corporations and fear.  Or shall I say ultimately, about corporations and love.

I have a dream that one day it will be possible to say these two words – “corporations” and “love” – together without it sounding like an oxymoron.

I have a dream that one day executives and employees, CEOS and administrative assistants, peers and teams and managers alike will join together, say a few “kumbayas” and make love the bottom line or maybe even just one of them.

I have a dream that it will be okay to say the words  “I love you” within the confines of corporate walls, real or virtual.

Yes, I have about love in the business world.

I also had a dream. A real one.  It was about fear in the business world. It went like this:

I was drifting off to sleep, thinking about my years in corporate life and how I was afraid so much of the time.
Afraid of what I could or could not say, afraid of whether I was wearing the right thing, afraid of what people were saying about me, afraid that I wasn’t pleasing the boss, that my staff might not like and respect me, afraid of the next performance review, afraid of getting in trouble, (which I never did by the way).  Afraid. Afraid. Afraid.
The fact that I worked in Human Resources only exacerbated my already fearful state. As the organizational parent, conscience, judge and jury, my own behavior had to be beyond reproach.  It was on display and it was being watched. As if I wasn’t afraid enough just trying to navigate the corporate machine as a regular ol’ employee, being in this role ratcheted up the fear factor significantly.

A few minutes pass, my eyes gently give way and I settle into slumber. Suddenly, I’m transported to another consciousness, whisked away, like Dorothy in her tornado only instead of Oz I was headed back to the LAND of THE FORTUNE 500, a land where the road isn’t always paved with gold but the parachutes are.

I find myself sitting in my black leather executive chair, in my nicely appointed office only I’m dressed in my pajamas with no makeup and my hair askew, much like I dress for my new line of work as “self-employed.”   I’m shuffling papers as if i‘m trying to find something terribly important while mumbling the words  “Love is the bottom line,  Love is the ultimate bottom line”

My assistant comes in and asks me if I am okay and I tell her not only am I okay, I am truly blessed. I then tell her that I love her.  I go to give her a hug but I can tell by the look on her face that wouldn’t be such a good idea.

I then proceed to my morning meeting – still in pjs, no makeup, hair askew.  Needless to say I receive a number of funny looks from these folks too.  They have that same look on their face – something between horror and trying to hold back laughter – that my assistant did. They ask me for my thoughts on a solution to a very sticky problem and I respond —  Hmmm – “let me meditate on it”.

I then put my hands in prayer position and tell them all “Namaste” – “the light in me honors the light in you.”

Later that day, Human Resources shows up in my office.  Everything I have been fearing finally comes true.  I said the wrong thing.  My boss doesn’t like me and neither does the staff now.  To top it off, I’m told I’m not seen as a “business person”.  The ultimate corporate insult.

HR then politely tells me I am “not a fit” for the culture, sympathetically offers me the services of the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) to assist me with getting my head back on straight (not HR’s job), and generously provides a bunch of boxes to pack my things.

I lay my head on my desk sobbing, I mumble to myself – “Oh If only I had stuck with business language, if only I didn’t say “I love you” to those I love, if only I said we are in business just to make money, if only I had the answer on the spot to the problem, they would have let me stay here in this LAND of FORTUNE and reap the benefits.   Or at least  I could have jumped on to the golden parachute and landed with some dollars in my pocket.”

If only….

I did the only thing left to do when you have just gotten fired in your dream.

I clicked my mouse three times (right click)….

And then I was “home.”  Back in the real world, or the unreal world, however you choose to look at it.  I realized I had just woken from a nightmare and returned to a place where dreams really can come true and actually do.
Even my dream about company’s being in business not only to make money but also to make love.

Now, how’s THAT for a “bottom line?”

With Grace,  Shari

Making Friends With Myself

NOTE:  This post was also published in Some Talk of You and Me http://sometalkofyouandme.com/2015/04/24/making-friends-with-myself-shari-sachs/

I know you all have them – the Voices inside your head.

A cacophony of Voices, that tell you, you can’t, you’re no good, who would want you anyway, you’re too fat/thin/ugly/stupid. Etc., etc., etc.

 Voices that beat you up for something you ostensibly did bad, wrong or so they say. Voices that tell you to worry, to be wary, be afraid. BE CAREFUL.

Then there is the Voice named GUILT, the one named SHAME, the one named SELF-LOATHING.

Need I go on?

Sometimes, however, there is one Voice that stands out amongst the rest refusing to relent, holding you hostage to it’s incessant chant, drowning out the others.

I have been wrestling with this Voice of mine for a very long time now, but especially so in the last years. I’m pretty sure that voice is echoing my ego, that part of me that might die if it didn’t have physical form and the limitations that come with it to attach to.

Egos, you see, are not the bedfellows of Spirit. They do not naturally “peacefully co-exist.”   Egos battle Spirit in a frenzied, “by any means necessary” way to stay alive. Even if it means killing you.

The battle between my ego and spirit culminated a few years back when life as I knew it began to systematically dismantle before my very eyes forcing me to “dis-identify” with more and more of the roles, expectations and material things that had defined me for the better part of a fifty something plus lifetime.

As I encountered this erosion of my ego the Voice simultaneously got louder and louder – and louder.

It no longer stopped after slinging just one or two negative digs my way; instead it assembled an ensemble of searing insults, put downs and self loathing commentary as an assault against my higher self that was desperately trying to edge it out.

Sometimes it got so loud that I couldn’t hear anything else. Sometimes it drowned everything else out to the point where I actually believed what it is saying. That was the point when I either would make stupid decisions, sabotage myself or keep myself small and from my own power.

Which of course, is just what “the Voice” wanted. And I really couldn’t blame it. After all, it was fighting for its survival.

But on a recent morning it was different. I think she – the Voice personified — must have been having a weak moment because she was not on her usual full frontal attack.   Instead she quietly introduced herself to me like someone who really wanted to know me and wasn’t sure I felt the same.

To my surprise, she was not practicing the usual guerrilla warfare I had come to expect. In fact, she was actually quite endearing.

“I’m Esmeralda” she whispered in my ear, gently announcing herself.

That’s right. Esmeralda.

After some minutes of chatting, I realized all she really wanted was love and a little bit of attention, maybe some validation. Yes, she acted like a brat to get it, but only because she knew no other way.

I realized that beneath the bravado and the bullying, all she really wanted was a hug.

So I hugged her. And when I did, it dawned on me that the more we try to extinguish something the harder it fights to stay alive.

I wondered, could it be that sometimes in our quest to get to know our higher selves we forget that we still need our egos? Or they still need us. Or both.

After all, the ego is the “instrument” which enables us to do the things we came to do in this Earthly world. There may come a time when we may not need them anymore but so long as we are in physical form they are with us for the ride.

They, and the bodies that go with it, are what allows us to see and hear and feel and sense beauty and grandeur and even the drama and pain that is all part of being alive in this physical world.

So why not befriend and embrace it? Just recognize it plays a supporting role instead of a leading one? Humor it when it tries to tell you what you can’t do and what you are not. Know that it’s just being silly and fighting to stay alive.

And so that’s what I did. I made her my friend. Esmerelda and I are now buds, bedfellows.  She still likes to act up from time to time and pretend she’s in control.   And sometimes I bite. But not for long. And when I come to my senses, I just stop and give her a hug, and tell her I love her. It’s as easy as that!

Are You Dancing on the Edge of Your Life Thinking You Have Forever?

NOTE:   This post was also published in Some Talk of You and Me under the title “Life is Now, Let’s Live it”

http://sometalkofyouandme.com/2015/04/19/life-is-now-lets-live-it-shari-sachs/

I am getting to that age where “unexpected” deaths are becoming more and expected, perhaps even accepted. Yesterday I went to a very sad, yet very beautiful and exceedingly divine memorial service for a 45 year old former colleague of mine who died “unexpectedly” after lingering for a couple of months subsequent to a brain aneurysm.

She had recently met and married a man who it turned out and much to both of their surprise to be the love of each other’s lives, finding each other after coming to close to giving up on love after years of singlehood and easing into mid-life (he ten years older) She quit her long held, chreished job and moved from the East Coast to California to be with him. They were just starting in mid-life, anew. They had found the very thing they thought they never would. By all accounts, their love was palpable and real and a light to others.

In the last several weeks I have learned of at least half a dozen deaths of people close to my age or younger (she was ten years younger) in my circles. Brothers and sisters of friends, childhood playmates, the ex-husband of a close friend.

Many of them were “unexpected”. A fast moving cancer that was never discovered for one, the fallout of a hardened life for another, a seemingly healthy heart that gave out without warning and the like for still others.

If I were sitting atop my spiritual perch right now (which I often am tempted to do) I could gain and try to give some comfort by pontificating about deeper understandings of life beyond death, the difference between physical bodies and formless timeless spirits, how death is merely a transition, a newly sculpted form – or lack of it, and how life here on Earth is merely an illusion, as some would believe. But, there are just times when the human part of me feels and needs to feel what it feels.

And what I feel in the wake of all of this reckoning is Grief. Grief over the loss of friends, or friends of friends or siblings of friends but also over the loss of my refusal to follow my soul’s calling too often when it beckoned.

I’m so sick of living a half- life, of being tentative and afraid, of not being ” all in”. I’m sick of seeking safety and missing out. I’m sick of regrets and woulda/shoulda/couldas. Tired of dancing around the edges of why I am here in the first place and at all. The Universe is showing me that this glorious, sensuous, painful, joyful, adventure-filled mystery we call LIFE can be over in an instant. Just like that (sound of fingers snapping).Despite our best laid plans. Despite our wishes and our waiting for the right time, moment, experience, place or person to do what we always yearned to do. Our physical forms can indeed “transition”, we can DIE before we did what we came to do, more importantly what we came to “be.”

I’m sure there is a prettier or more polished way of saying this. But I’m not wanting to be about making things look pretty or perfect anymore. I just want to be true, unafraid and unabashed and living each moment as if it is my last.

My surfer husband has taught me that there is a moment when you are catching a wave that you have to make a split second decision to “pull in” to the “barrel” of the wave – or not. The “barrel” I’m told is the transcendent spot of the wave, where spirit of surfer and sea merge. “Pulling in” is the only way to catch that part of the wave that will give you it’s ultimate ride. Fear, excitement, anticipation and sheer terror are all collude in a millisecond to force your decision. Pull in or not. One way or the other. There is no in-between.

To make the choice to not “pull in” does not necessarily mean you will get creamed, although you might. It’s just that you won’t get to experience the purest essence and exhilaration of that wave.   There will be more waves, if you are patient for sure, but that one ride that never was will never exist again. Ever.

I have decided, and am asking God/Spirit/Universe to assist me, to “pull in” to all that is calling to me with all the commitment, passion and fervor I can muster. It’s time, way past time. I have been sitting and waiting for that wave, splashing around in the water, running from it, or floating around it for too long.

I just pray it isnt too late.

What about you?

Why Being Alone on Christmas was the Best Present I Ever Had

It’s Christmas Day. And I am spending it alone.  I mean all alone.  Well –  alone without another human around that is.  I do have the company of  “Si” however, my “granddog” that I am dogsitting this week.  i_survived_being_home_alone_ornament-r59c201dd311b42dd897b86ed3e08a261_x7s2y_8byvr_324

When I told most people that I would be without any human companionship on Christmas day,  many of them gasped with a combination of something between pity and shock or just a sincere concern for me for having to spend Christmas all by my lonesome.

I wasn’t really sure myself how I felt about it.  A part of me thought that I should be upset that I was going to be all alone on what is such a traditional celebratory day usually spent in sharing the holiday cheer with family and friends.  But I think the expectation of how one should  be spending this day was creating more angst than how I really felt about it.  It was like I felt like I should be feeling more sad about it than I really was.

Was there something terribly wrong with me for not feeling more sadness or self-pity?  Was I some kind of a sociopath for not cringing at the notion of a quiet Christmas, just me and the dog?  Honestly this was much more the source of any consternation I’ve had this season than merely being alone itself.

So here it is – Christmas Day,  I’m  far from “home”- wherever that is these days (another story for another day).  I’m alone.  I don’t have one single present to unwrap.  No Christmas dinner except the rotisserie chicken I picked up last night and my favorite  chocolate Almond Dream ice cream(yum).  No one to eat with or drink with or toast with.  Nowhere  – and I mean – nowhere to go .  I can’t even put gas in my car today.

And it’s the best Christmas day ever.

Why?  Because in the space of solitude and free from the busyness and distractions of all the things we usually expect to be doing this time of year, something so much more valuable than any gift-wrapped present showed up.

In fact, this year I got the best gifts I have ever received. And I would like to share them with you:

Gift #1 – Experiencing the Love of a Dog

Si

Si

One of the biggest gifts I received this year was the gift – and I do mean gift – of spending time with a dog – just me and him –  who is fully in the present moment.  He knows nothing about the fact that this is a holiday but still spends every waking moment in a place of love, affection and acceptance and a bountiful zest for life that is consistent with the Christmas spirit .  Only he does this everyday and every moment of his life.  On this Christmas I got to experience love, affection and companionship from him that is the best example of unconditional love I could ever wish for.   It pours forth from him effortlessly and without judgment.  Plus he’s so darn CUTE.

His outpouring of love also brings forth love from me.  It encourages me to reciprocate not only to him but to everyone.  It helps me to feel and express the love that is inside of me.

 Gift #2 – Giving Beyond Presents

 On previous Christmas days and the weeks leading up to it, I was usually too busy to give of myself to anyone else.  Yes, I gave gifts to my family and friends of course, and sometimes I gave money to organizations and people in need. I gave what I thought I had to give which amounted mostly to material things.

During the season itself,  I was busy trying to do what I thought I “should’ – give and receive gifts, give and go to parties, spread joy and cheer.  These are all good things.  But I told myself the story this was all I had to give.  I had children and a job and not much time for volunteering or being a vessel to spread love to others in need.

This year, I went to a church service with my daughter who is deeply involved and committed to her church and their mission.   I went even though I consider myself “Jewish by birth” and heritage, and “spiritual but not religious”  in my beliefs.  I can tell you – from my novice standpoint  -church ain’t what it used to be.  The pastor is young and hip, there are no religious symbols, there’s rock music, most people wear jeans.  Its not even in a church!

The pastor’s words spoke to me and I believe much of what he preaches can reach many people regardless of their religious beliefs because he speaks to us as human beings and of the struggles we all face.

Part of the mission of this church is to give ridiculous amounts of time, labor, love and also money to others.  The next day they were going to give away huge Christmas dinners to 80 families in a low-income housing neighborhood.

I was going to be here in this strange town all alone.  Just me and Si.  I didn’t have any of the usual excuses of running around or preparing for parties so what reason could I possibly have for not going? So I went. By myself but completely in community.

There were lots of other people helping too.  It wasn’t a huge thing or a difficult thing to do.  But in doing it I got to see the joy that can be created by giving to those in need.  More importantly I got to interact with those in need and in doing so experience our shared humanity.  It’s a lot different than sending in a check or making a donation.  I’m not saying those things are bad or not desperately needed  What I am saying is that for me,  maybe for the first time in my life,  I understand there is nothing as powerful as touching another human being with your presence and your love.

Gift #3 – Discovering Gratitude for Real

It is amazing what spending time with one’s self and just being with one’s Self can enable us to discover.  This year I discovered gratitude.  I know that in spiritual circles this word has become seemingly overused, maybe a little trite.  I’ve read about it, talked about it, been preached to about it before.  But the truth is I spend a lot of time focused on what’s wrong instead of what’s right.  I feel grateful but often in a conditional way.

I’d also been crawling around in a lot of darkness lately, the light obscured  by lots of loss and confusion. But my experience of the last few days – spending quality time with both my daughters, loving and being loved by my granddog, spending time with people in need, and having ample time to meditate, pray, and dig deep even in unfamiliar circles has shown me all I have to be grateful for in a different, glowing light.

I’m grateful for heat and being warm on this cold day.  I’m grateful to have food.  I’m grateful to have amazing children and parents still alive and healthy.  I’m grateful for my husband being in my life.  I’m grateful that when my daughter got sick the other day she got better.  I could go on and on – and on.   And I plan to.  Maybe the word is overused for a reason.  Because gratitude is the switch that turns the light on and therefore, it can never really be used too much.

I’m grateful for this time alone for teaching me about gratitude.

Feeling Good

Gift #4 – Coming Closer to God

 This is by far the most important gift because it is the gift that makes all the other gifts possible.  I’m a spiritual seeker by nature.  Perhaps I always will be.  Over the years, I have followed many of the so called “new age” spiritual leaders  – Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra.  I do yoga and try to study the philosophy that accompanies the practice of physical poses.  I’m drawn toward Eastern spiritual philosophy. But, in the last few weeks I’ve been led both back to my Jewish roots and a pull toward Judasim, but also paradoxically toward the tenets of what I like to call “Christ consciousness” as well.

I’ve determined as many others have(and many others will also dispute) that all legitimate spiritual leaders – from Ghandi to King to Buddha to Mandela to Jesus himself promulgate essentially the same principles of compassion, non-judgment, service all grounded in God’s love plus the premise that we’ve been separated from our true selves and souls, and that there are many paths to God but they all lead to the same place.  They lead us to our own divinity, to knowing God better, to eventually making better, more conscious choices for our life because of knowing God and having greater purpose.

I’ve believed this intellectually. I believe it fervently.  But feeling it and finding it inside of myself, and especially practicing it consistently has been such a struggle.  Despite all my seeking, transformation has somehow eluded me. Sometimes  the extent of the struggle has tested my faith.  But this season, thanks to all these other gifts and the alone time I had to go inside,  I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’ve actually touched God inside of me and that me and Him or Her or the Higher Power that it is can start to have a relationship.  And that feels good and right and gives me hope.

So it is in that vain I say Merry Christmas today and really everyday.  I hope that all of your days are as full of love and serenity that mine has been.  And that you get the best present you ever had too!