Stars when you shine - You know how I feel, Scent of the pine - You know how I feel ... Leslie Bricusse and Anothy Newley
Every year since my two Grands were able to hold a Christmas ornament, they have excitedly created a manger scene on the mantle. Sometimes Jesus was supported by a little smarties box so the light shone right on him. Yet, this is the Christmas of the COVID 19. Unlike the last twelve years, the mantle is bare and will remain so until my Grands return. Nor is there any need to decorate the table for Christmas dinner which all feels a bit barren. A neighbor was telling me her dream the other day. She found herself in a desert, yet, not like the high desert I love in Tucson. Her's felt barren, lifeless -- a part of life that can feel prison-like and even under siege -- be it from boredom, loneliness, loss, or sadness as the COVID has its way.
The above observation, begs the question, who am I without all the (human) stuff, where is my happy place, and how can I find it? I am also sure we are on this earth plane to do just that - where no matter what the limitations, with its desert-like feelings, something deeper, richer, and larger always calls, "Do not be afraid. I am always with you. I call you by name."* This inner essence, this emanating presence waits. Its cadence, resonance, and longing are in each of us.
St Exupery tells us what is essential is invisible to the eye. The other night watching the news, a very tiny light at the top of a very little tree caught my attention. It's light looked like a star, reminding me of my meditation candle in the early morning. Its rays in some magical way spread up beyond my little altar, as it was doing with the little tree light. Light in the darkness, I lost myself in it or better said, found myself in both.
This happy place I am referring to really has nothing to do with anyone or anything else. It is between me and the mystery of me, as it is between you and the mystery of you. Know yourself, stay behind what you know yourself to be. It is not material. Tolle tells us, we have to let go of seeing things through the screen of concepts and knowledge. We call a tree, a tree and there it stops, we call a dog, a dog and there it stops -- until we spend time with each. When we go beyond the tree-bark and dog-fur, we discover presence in both as we find our deeper selves in what we love, in relationship, and our beyondness. And it's here we discover our happy place.
In Jacob Leiberman's book, Luminous Life: How the Science of Light Unlocks the Art of Living the author points out that presence is what arises when we embrace and allow the light within us to merge with the light that guides us and this life is magical.
Yes, it is a very different year, this COVID year. Humanity is crying in so many parts of the world. Yet, no matter the threat, no matter the table won't be set, no matter hugs are out, we each can find our happy place. The little tree light was hiding a presence that is invisible to the eye - a oneness in me and a oneness in the beauty of it. And like the wise shepherds who said so long ago, "Look, look, there is the star..." We can find it now, find it today. We all have it built-in." This light bounces off God.
** P.S. Late yesterday afternoon, Nova Scotia announced it was easing restrictions so that ten can gather in a house for Christmas. I am happy, the mantle will come to life after all.