The Prodigal Child at Christmas

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It is Christmas Day, several days early in my family…I think this year there will be only one person missing.  Like in the bible story, the prodigal son or daughter is special for not being there.  After many years the prodigal child returns and the entire village turns out to greet the child.  Almost seems like there might be merit to being away.

That will not be happening this year, but there is always next year.  But for those of us who are counting the end of life years, we hope for a quicker resolution to life’s issues.

Tonight is a special night in our family.  I usually come to the clan dinner with the traditional French Canadian meat pies.  My sisters bring a meat spread, and a niece always brings a dip that was created by my mother.  There are custard pies, cakes, and chocolate cream pies and toll house cookies that are usually decimated before dinner.

Then the presents.  Everyone buys for everyone and then there is a game of swapping gifts that ends up with two folks tearing at one gift and everyone watches like it was Gillette’s Night at the fights.

But it is all in good fun…and since our family has loved Christmas for generations, it is so easy to fall into the rhythm of this holiday.  I love Christmas but I did have an insight this year that might help me in years to come.  I can not stand any aspect of Christmas before the twelfth or the fifteenth of December.  But once the darkest days of winter begin to settle in, I get a shock to my Christmas Spirit and the jolt rocks me into a whirl of activities…decorating, cooking, shopping and the beautiful traditional Carols that are really a part of the church music going back to the 15th century.

This year my partner and I are doing our third year of a new Christmas Eve tradition.  We will be at the midnight mass in St. Augustine, Florida.  We will have arrived at our home earlier on Christmas Eve day.  There will be time for a nap, some unpacking, reservations for a great dinner in town and the beautiful Gregorian Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine.  The first church on this continent began some five hundred years ago….Very little on our continent has that longevity.

Be they old traditions, or new young traditions, Christmas begs to be a holiday that is remembered for their similarities through time.  I listened earlier today to Dylan Thomas reading, “A Child’s Christmas in Whales.” I have been doing this  since the late sixties…not French Canadian, but an ethnic reminder that christmas is a cross-cultural event.

Merry Christmas and to all the prodigal children out there–try to be home for Christmas next year. When you are older you will be glad to you have a tradition to rely on….

P.S.  If you have 19 minutes to be treated to one of Christmas’s rare and stunningly simple pieces of happy poetry.  Click on the link below:

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an occasion for joy

http://500px.com/aldussault/stories/81609/an-occasion-for-joy

Every, every thing that we encounter is either an opportunity to externalize or an opportunity to scrutinize. The inward 

looking for answers is nowhere as natural as our human tendency to look out-ward for the source of the conflict. Getting 

to believe that every conflict is a conflict within is not an easy task and it requires vigilance and persistence as well as surrounding 

ourselves with people who want to be on the same spiritual path…. 

The path is one in which we believe ourselves to be the source of all perception, in other words, the maker, the creator of our realities.

We are a herding animal. We do best in groups, loosely formed groups that help us to make corrections in our perceptions. Although 

it may feel initially easier to want to believe that the source of our pain lies in somebody else’s drama, it really always lies in our 

response to the drama that we see in the world…

Every inter-reaction that we encounter comes from a place within that is trying to make sen …

 

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Woman in Pain:
This pen & ink with a watercolor wash depicts a woman in deep pain looking out into a world that looks as painful as the world she lives within. She is both angry and sad, but her appetite for vitality is seen in her eyes–they are deep and dark and attentive. The original is a 16 x 20 painting on Bristol paper. 
Once painted, the image was imported into Topaz and rendered in simplify, a plug in for i photo.

Home Sweet Home

I have done very little writing this summer.  I guess I am OK with that, but I do find myself searching for something and I think the search is for something as comforting as writing was earlier in the year.  It is so easy to blame summer.  There is sheer joy in just being in the world where the windows are open to a constant breeze and the birds sings and the water becomes holy and warm and healing.  I did spend a great deal of this summer healing and thinking about healing.

Before the summer ends I wanted to put some of these thoughts together in a cohesive essay because I think they might be helpful to other people who suffer from the chronic critical voice that lingers like a ticker-tape in the back of the mind, forever calling out some atrocity about to happen or warning us about some grievous fault that we have committed.

We have a mind that we can to some extent control.  That is the mind we think with.  “I think I want to go to the marketplace and purchase some vegetables for tonight’s dinner.”  That statement is a thought that will most likely propel me into an action at some point so that I am able to accomplish the object of my desire:  buy vegetables.  The sound from that voice in my head was as clear as if I had spoken it out-loud.

But, what about the voice that speaks in a dimmer tone, the one that says:  “you can’t do that, you are not smart enough, you have no culture and if you go out everyone you want to impress will know what a supreme jerk you are….”  That voice is also a communication from the mind but it seems to have a more autonomic sense about it.  It is not a thought that i decided that I wanted to have, rather it is a thought that stays suspended in a sub-conscious state and though we have no desire to listen to it, it may well propel us to action or passivity like the first example about the vegetables.

We are frequently guided by a force that seems to come from nowhere.  We put our heads on the pillow and instead of a list of gratitudes, what comes out is a list of outlandish criticisms that seek to prevent us from going after what we want.

This summer I wanted to stay home at the Lake.  The voice was very loud on many occasions telling me I was lazy, but I was able to overcome the voice by continuously reminding myself that following my desire is a more noble effort than sulking.  It occurred to me many time this summer that if I was going to have a pleasant, free and easy summer that I was going to have to invite in the peace that comes from deliberate intention.

It remains amazing to me that the negative thoughts springing from some repetition in the ego are so easy to access, while the peaceful, calm, deliberate serenity that I get from writing, or reading or a multitude of other activities that I enjoy; these must be invited in.  I like to use a “zen” like singing bowl, tap its side and listen to the vibrations that last into a long fading silence.  This reminds me that I need to listen deliberately and that I must be conscious about inviting in gratitude….

Summer was great!