10749592116_b91ec6743a_z

Practice Makes Balance

But I’ve learned in the past few years that my desire to make my situation ideal hurts instead of helps. Underneath the desire for “perfect” is a lack of acceptance for who I am. It’s a refusal to recognize I’m human and there are going to be times where I don’t feel I’m measuring up. That the whole focus on measuring up to some illusory self leads to deeper dissatisfaction, and pulls me further away from joy.

Nana

Small Gestures Matter

What struck me most about that day was how someone right in front of you one minute can be gone in the next. I’d always known that my mother was an only child, but I’d never understood until then what that meant. She had no siblings to share her grief, none to help with funeral arrangements, none to begin the tedious and painful process of cleaning out a lifetime of things from the small house where my mother had grown up.

8399481251_7dd3ce557a_o

Honoring the Mundane on New Year’s Eve

It didn’t surprise me that I chose to stay home on a night that many attend parties, frequent night clubs or saunter on the streets, screaming “Happy New Year!” to strangers. Even in my youth, I never understood the appeal of New Year’s Eve. Most parties I attended in my twenties started with fervent anticipation of what the night might carry and then after midnight that magical waft of energy never quite gravitated toward my direction.

4184333346_cbd20fc32c_z

The Way Home

In front of me, crossing the busy street is a very young couple with three small children. They are dressed in warm clothes, but are hurrying across the dark, busy street at nine o’clock on a cold Wednesday night in December. I wonder where they’re going. The young mother’s face shows lines of worry as she carries the littlest child and shields her from the strong wind. They reach the corner where an Exxon gas station used to be. It is boarded up and dark. They step onto the curb. The light changes, and I make a right-hand turn onto the busy pike.

1249773460_7f1924cd5b_o

Mother and Child

Reading the story of Jesus’s birth this past weekend, reciting part of the story in my Quaker meeting this past Sunday, reminded me once again that the Christmas story is the story of every mother, parent and child. Every baby is a savior. Every baby adds light to the world, hope in the darkness, a reminder of what matters. Babies help us brush away all the excess gunk in our minds and figure out what matters—new life, breath, and the all-too-quick passage of time.

8221648570_45c7fa140d_o

Acknowledging the Hidden Light

And that is the world we live in—the world created by the unintentional destruction of the pipes conveying the divine light. Thus, we live in a world filled with hidden light, and it is up to us to liberate the divine sparks from the shells that hide them, by repairing the world, by righting injustice, by treating everyone and everything with loving compassion, by discerning the divine light at the core of every dark shell.

4405168676_d12b3eff16_b

What Is Left Unsaid

As much as she is dazed about wonder, I am reluctant for her to learn the swing of the pendulum. That yes, you will love people. Some of them will become sick. And that eventually these people will pass away. That this will happen to her too. How do you tell a nine-year-old that life and loss are intertwined?

11666086704_de53793d3d_k

Not Like Us

Rather than celebrate the kaleidoscope of our differences, we magnify the worst parts about the ‘other’, inevitably leading to exclusion and misunderstanding. The more we hunker down and surround ourselves with people ‘like us’ the more different everyone else seems. And the cycle continues.