Be a light unto this world.
2017 has been a time of unbelievable darkness in many parts of the world, for countries, communities, families, and individuals. It’s also been the advent of some amazing movements. I think we can say that we are in a great time of flux and there seems to be an acceleration in the ebb and tide of light and darkness in the world and the chaos and opportunity that is born from those fluctuations. The end of the year is a perfect time to take stock of what has happened during the past year and this year, more than most, we may need to take time to get quiet and seek sanity.
One year, I would like to go off somewhere snowy and spending the last week of the year in ritual. Making a big pot of my favorite stock Golden Chicken Broth from Whole Foods would be the first thing I would do, to feed my body, mind, and soul by creating a beautiful meal that would nourish me on my retreat. I recently read that a country has the ritual of buying books and giving them on Christmas Eve and spending the night by reading and eating chocolate in bed. My retreat would be similar for me. I would follow up my breaking bread with my pot of soup by buying a brand new journal, lovely gel pens, and plenty of electronic tea lights would be the next. With me, I would bring my Tibetan singing bowl, my rosary, and a few photos of people who mean a great deal to me, including my teachers. And I would spend the last week of the year engaged in ritual, writing, praying, and reflecting.
I did something similar to this a few days before a major event in my life. I took a long weekend and went on retreat to recharge and rest. I had no idea I would be coming home to a life changing event, but there was something in me that knew I needed to prepare my mind, body, and spirit for something to come. And I wish over the years, I had done this more often that I have and it is my goal for 2018 to at least do a mini version of this sabbatical.
You can look up online and find all kinds of ideas for reflection and ritual. Here is one such link for the winter solstice. I’m sure you can find video on Youtube and other places. One good place to look for ideas for rituals and healing is to look up sites that are about Wicca or women’s health and healing. Or like I did, create your own ritual.
Remember that this time of the year is filled with rituals: baking sweets, wrapping presents, decorating trees, etc. Many of the things we do during these bleak winter days implore us to stay busy, running from mall to mall or website to site looking for the best sales. We can traipse from party to party or Christmas party to cookie exchange; we are so very good at staying busy. But we can also take this time to go inward, to reflect, to recollect, to reconnect and to ultimately renew.
We can take this dark time of year to sit and to foster a deep, impenetrable light within us that we will draw from in the year to come; that light that we will share with the world we inhabit. During this time of tradition, ritual, and families, let us keep our families and communities of origin as touchstones that have taught us (for better or worse).
Let us reflect on our successes and goals of the past year and remember that which we cherish the most.
Let us set a plan for the year to come, including things like:
- How will we take more time to disconnect from the net and social media?
- How will we get more involved in our communities (volunteering or getting more involved in civic matters)?
- How will we live our values in our workplace, our families, our daily lives?
- How will we find time for meaning-making, merry-making, peace-making, and sanity-restoring?
Let us take the time to give thanks for all of the people we have lost, prepare our hearts for all the people who we have yet to meet, and make amends to those we have wronged, slighted, or caused harm to.
Let us take the time to review what things we hold dear to us (freedom, virtue, love, patience, gratitude, etc) and come up with ideas for bringing them into our daily lives, in our actions, words, and convictions.
This year, let us take the time to be a light in this world! Stand up to any darkness that you see in this world — step in when someone is being bullied, hold a hand when someone is lonely, feed someone who is starved, listen to someone who has been silenced.
Transform the darkness in this world and bring light to all corners of the world.