Rev. Alex Holt
We know about the powerful symbolism of lights during the holiday season. Advent, Christmas, The Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day and other celebrations remind us that light will shine through the darkness lighting our way to the future.
This last month has been especially challenging to people at Westside as well as many others around America. I am going to adopt a practice during the month of December and hope you might do so as well. The practice will be to turn away from the ongoing 24 hours/7 days a week news cycles.
Less news on Mr. Trump, the election, recounts, cabinet picks, etc.
More news on how family and friends are doing as the holidays arrive.
More news about our personal stories of the holiday season and maybe some funny memories of Christmas or other occasions.
More time spent cooking or shopping or hiking as winter closes in.
Less time worrying about the future.
This doesn’t mean we ignore or avoid the grim and uncertain times ahead. We simply don’t know what will happen and that’s naturally a place for greater anxiety to arise. However, we don’t have to be made powerless and bereft by world events.
There are alternatives. Here are some options as mindfulness practices.
Turn off news notifications on your phone, tablets and computers for an entire day and use that day as a Sabbath time of renewal and lightening up life.
In conversations with family and friends change the topic to the holidays and their meanings or perhaps some funny memories from holidays past.
Have a mindfulness practice that involves movement or getting out of doors. There’s nothing like paying close attention to the world around us to take one’s mind away from the impermanent dramas of life.
Join and donate to organizations that support your most important social values. Westside would be one example. Organizations like Planned Parenthood or other groups are well organized to represent us in the larger world. Make them powerful voices of response.
Create a personal mantra and say it as many times as needed to bring you back to the present moment. Expressions like “This, too, shall pass” or “with a peaceful mind meet what comes” can be anchoring phrases when we need them.
Finally, honor and give voice to anger or despair with trusted others. Westside UU will have several informal ‘Concerns and Hopes’ (thanks for the name suggestion, Chaplain Mark) during January around the time of the Inauguration on January 20. Having safe places to give voice to our feelings will be very important as we continue to plan strategies for the future months and years of principled resistance to any efforts to dismantle social progress of the last fifty years.
Lighten up can mean many things. We get to choose if we want to create more light and hope this time of year; we can also choose to focus on the joys of the holidays and less on the uncertainties ahead.