recipe for christmas

What a perfect winter solstice morning. Dark and foggy, rainy and chilly. I look at the Christmas tree with its colorful lights reflected in the white walls and ceiling in contrast to the dark brick and black iron of the firing wood stove.

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Drinking my hot black coffee from the gleaming white porcelain mug. Feeling the illness that has plagued me the past ten days still in my body, but now having runs its course  the pain is gone, leaving an awareness of well being to reign at the same time.

Of course, Nora didn’t let me stay in bed all day every day this past week when that’s all I wanted to do. She did her best to entertain herself at the edge of the meadow with the collection of toys she keeps there, tossing the delaminating tennis ball in the air for her own amusement,

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and then bored even with that, run sprints until she was satiated. I would wait however. Eventually meadow time wasn’t enough, and when her insistent call for our ritual walk in the woods became too much to bear, I would nonchalantly don shoes and coat. Where I had to slow down and give in to whatever was having its way with my cells, I also needed to feel the life infusing fresh air and sun when it was there too.

This past week there were a few bright days. Walking even more slowly than usual, I could notice the subtle but clear changes of the season moving us toward the polarized awareness of the season, ice sculptures forming in the brook,

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small and hidden still in the rush of clear water.

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I became aware of my neighbor the church, the edge of light on the white steeple beckoning through the spaces between the trees.

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Even on a gloomy day, having Ben’s radiant smile there with me in the woods was a reminder of just how precious our time is together.

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The razor edge between dark and light is present everywhere. Where the past few weeks have presented the darkest of days leading to this moment, now it is time to make the choice to walk into the light. Being able to make this choice, at this time, right now, has been the choice since the beginning of time. All these years of celebrating Christmas, the joy of reaching deep into my creativity and the joy that results, has been enough. But now I see that it might be possible to yield to a new way of experiencing this place. A new recipe for Christmas.** Reaching into my creative self always has been the light, the place of autonomy where I feel most true to who I am. It’s not about being selfish or self-sacrificing. It’s not about doing or not doing. I think of all my dear friends, family, colleagues, and people who I cross paths with on any given day. What is the light they are walking into? What state of being, what act of kindness or creativity or adventure lets that choice be the sign of their own autonomy while standing on the line between such equally powerful forces?

I’m excited to be on the other side of the darkness now. In the true spirit of Christmas, my ex husband bought and delivered a tree, and spent the time to trim and get it set up in the house. The generosity of friends and neighbors has warmed my heart during a vulnerable time, during a time when I don’t easily ask for help or reach out for what I need, bringing chicken soup and doing errands. This year, I have had to choose the light that comes with letting go and letting be.  Yielding is the gift.  So there are not five kinds of cookies or a handmade gift for everyone that I have labored for weeks over.  Gifts will be more spontaneous this year.  An intimate hour with a loved one just sitting in front of the fire.  So the house is not spotlessly clean. It still feels good in its warmth and charm. My parents arrive today for a week of being together. We are excited about just giving space to celebrating a sweet time together. To share Christmas dinner with those that can join us.  Just being together is the goal. Just doing as little as possible is the vision.

Choosing the light doesn’t mean the darkness is gone. It just means the weight of the light will only get stronger now.

 

**Recipe for Christmas

Ingredients:

waking up in the dark

multiple sources of light

some fire

a precious dose of self awareness; recognizing what makes you feel joy

Light the fire in the dark.  Turn on the lights.  Summon, for at least one moment, that which brings you joy.  Stay.  Simmer on low for as long as it takes to be, in love, in the presence of another.

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