13 December 2012

Celebrate Christmas? No thanks. Too hard.

Celebrations like Christmas are good.
Lives and losses worth grieving are good too.
Those "good" things may not be easily compatible, but they're not incompatible.

If you know Christmas is going to be difficult for you this year, make a plan now to make it as survivable as possible.

I remember sitting at an intersection in tears one Christmas, knowing I was welcome several places, but not feeling at home in any of them. It happens. Holidays are not always jolly-days.


You may not be able to get home, or you may have a broken relationship, or have lost a dear loved one, or just can't cope with the hubbub of big groups. You may be in the dog box or have no money to do anything special or have kids who are celebrating with their other parent.

Some options:
You can find ways to cocoon yourself and ignore the whole thing, though that will mean little or no access to TV, internet or radio. One friend considered going to a country where Christmas wasn't celebrated! You could get enough books or videos to last 2-3 days. Plan healthy snacks with a few special nibbles.

Another option might be to involve yourself in a project you enjoy and want to do anyway.
Get out those paints, that puzzle, book or toolbox . . . glue gun, sewing machine or model airplane.
You have to plan ahead though. Make sure you have all the supplies you'll need so as not to add to your frustration on the day.

Again, you might choose to volunteer or brighten someone else's day. You won't be the only one struggling. Together you might end up in a better place, telling stories of happier times or sharing that chunk of chocolate instead of eating it all yourself.

What about doing some baking, or gathering some supplies ahead of time, and delivering parcels to those who are working to provide essential services? The police, fire services, medical and utilities staff would all probably rather be home instead of at work. Take them something that acknowledges their 24/7/365 type job. Offer the same generosity to the homeless or lonely in your community.

Are theatres or movie houses open near you? Go! Get some popcorn and ice cream and enjoy a film. Going to movies alone means you can see whatever you want and don't have to share your snacks. Even go for a double-header!

What do you enjoy doing? What have you been wanting to do?
Plan for that on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, and whatever other tough times you anticipate. Take what control you can of the situation and focus not on what you've lost, but on what you enjoy.

I don't mean to minimise your loss or discomfort, and make this sound easy. I'm just encouraging you to make it through these holidays as best you can. Planning ahead will make the day easier, if not easy.


Being nostalgic and imagining everyone else having a super time . . . well, those imaginings are not helpful, and those other families are very possibly getting on each other's last nerve.

Grass is always greener . . . ? Most families are dysfunctional. Really.

Check out the following for ideas and considerations:

http://www.conversationsatintersections.blogspot.co.nz/2011/12/difficult-or-lonely-christmas.html

11 December 2012

Grief at Christmas

Grief is difficult at the best of times. Christmas complicates it. Holidays also bring dormant or deeper grief to the fore.
Be considerate of those for whom Christmas is not all jingle bells.

http://www.conversationsatintersections.blogspot.co.nz/2011/12/difficult-or-lonely-christmas.html?m=1


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05 December 2012

Nouwen: Silence: & Solitude strip away our scaffolding

Henri Nouwen, writing of his own experience with solitude, beautifully summarized both the challenges and the benefits of solitude and silence:


In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding; no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make, no meetings to attend, no music to entertain, no books to distract, just me—naked, vulnerable, weak, sinful, deprived, broken—nothing. It is this nothingness that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something.
But that is not all. As soon as I decide to stay in my solitude, confusing ideas, disturbing images, wild fantasies, and weird associations jump about in my mind like monkeys in a banana tree. Anger and greed begin to show their ugly faces. I give long, hostile speeches to my enemies and dream lustful dreams in which I am wealthy, influential, and very attractive—or poor, ugly, and in need of immediate consolation.
Thus I try again to run from the dark abyss of my nothingness and restore my false self in all its vainglory.The task is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my cell until all my seductive visitors get tired of pounding on my door and leave me alone.


But it's worth it, to know who we really are.

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03 December 2012

Wisdom gained through the perspective of brevity of life

“Lord, make us know the shortness of our life, and we shall gain wisdom of heart”. (Psalm 90:12)

To live like one were dying, to give at every minute of one’s life, one’s all,
to put in the treasury, everything one owns, like the poor widow of the Gospel,
willingly perishing from one’s thoughts all and every worry about tomorrow;
in this alone one truly lives.

There's a certain reckless abandon required if one is to live life to the full,
a certain surrender to the unknown, a willingness to walk and be guided by
the most ephemeral signs and pointers along the way, as one allows himself
to be led only by God’s providential hand, from the comfort and security of
terra firma to the immense mystery and awesome darkness of terra incognita,
trusting only in the God who shall always be waiting.

http://www.catholicwebphilosopher.com/


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02 December 2012

Characters on the journey to the manger


As we approach Christmas, we are in ‘waiting’ mode – but waiting for what? Sacred Spaces offers a retreat will help us to find out what’s going on between ourselves and God and how we might move forward, even a little, in our hope and commitment.
Through Sacred Spaces mini online retreat, you will meet God in the deepest dimensions of your heart, because there you are your truest and best self. Ask then for the gift of a silent heart to be able to hear God’s whisper. Then you will catch on to what God wishes for you this Christmastide.
A retreat is an inner journey, but where it may lead is as yet unknown. You may well be surprised or encouraged, challenged, or excited at what happens. You may become puzzled or fearful: perhaps God may be hinting that your life should take a new direction – think of a young Mary just going about her business, interrupted by God. 
By staying with the prayer with an open mind and a generous heart, you will come to inner peace. God is a God of consolation and waits to be gracious to you (2 Cor 1:3; Isaiah 30:18).
The retreat is organized into four sessions which you can complete in a single day or spread them out over the four weeks of Advent. Or you can take them in some other way. Just go gently, at your own pace. There are advantages in going slowly and staying a while with each Gospel character you meet. And of course some things will attract you which you find yourself pondering outside your prayer time.
Choose a time and a place. Eliminate distractions for the chosen time frame. Join God on this journey to the manger.

Follow the link below for more of the following:
  • a) Imagine Jesus looking at you. How does he look? Bored or angry or loving? Think of the phrase with which a French mystic summed up her relationship with God: ‘You gazed on me – and you smiled!’ Allow God to smile at you, and allow yourself to smile back! Perhaps much of the prayer time is spent here, but that will be fine! To accept the divine invitation to move forward into the unknown, you need to be aware of God’s infinite and unconditional love for you.
  • b) Now ask for what you need.




Sacred Spaces journey to the Manger