It’s December 28th, the “3rd day of Christmas” according to the ancient calendar. Christians used to celebrate the Nativity for 12 days following the Christmas feast (thus the song The Twelve Days of Christmas). So we’re really only 1/4 way through Christmas!
The culmination of Christmas, arrives on the 12th Day. January 6 marks the Epiphany.
In common vernacular when we say we’ve had an epiphany, we mean we’ve experienced a profound, life altering insight. The word comes from the feast marking homage to the Christ child by the Magi, exceptionally learned men who were masters in astronomy and astrology (back then, the two schools were not in conflict!) , philosophy and likely alchemy as well. That these three men would travel across the world bring costly gifts to a poor infant who was born in an animal shelter was a a recognition that things aren’t always as they appear. In fact, the Magi knew something hugely significant had happened: this tiny, uncelebrated, unknown child carried an enormous, planet-altering consciousness.
Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, the story has a significant lesson for us all.
The Divine may not appear as we expect…
Robed in triumph,
Armed with Power,
Basking in Sunshine.
Sometimes, the Mystery awaits us…
Cloaked in Humility,
Laden with Frailty,
Dreaming in Darkness.
Humility, frailty and darkness were certainly part of my Inner Experiment. And it was in making space for that the magic happened for me again. In fact, it’s still happening.
It has been a joyful holiday. Bridget dressed up like an angel for the Christmas tableau at church (and then took the costume off again before Mass began…) and Maddie played her clarinet for Joy to the World and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. We had one of the happiest and most relaxed gatherings with family ever. David’s Mom was sharp and in good spirits. The presents Santa brought are still strewn all over the floor.
I also faced some difficult feelings during the last few days of the experiment. Free floating anxiety that woke me up in the middle of the night a couple of days before Christmas. An ache in my heart walking into certain rooms at my parents’ house and wanting so much to turn the corner and see my Dad sitting there. The disruption of Bridget’s regular schedule and the excitement over Santa’s impending arrival brought about a few tantrums for her. And David and I had a silly spat on Christmas morning.
The interesting thing is, none of these things took away from the joy that also came with the holy days. In fact, it seems I’ve been feeling everything more deeply. As I allow myself to be present to painful feelings (instead of giving into the judgment that I should “know better” than to feel this way), I am also rediscovering an expansive happiness.
I can’t tell you I’ve found The Answer…the magic key to happiness and ease once and for all. Quite the opposite. The Inner Experiment reminded me that this human journey is not about arriving or getting it all “figured out.” It’s not about perfection (not even a perfect Christmas…)and it’s not about rising above pain.
Instead, like the Vedic stories of the mystics who were able to encounter beauty and peace while meditating in charnel grounds (the areas in India and Tibet where bodies were left to decay), I am getting a glimpse of joy. The particular joy that runs through everything when I surrender my resistance to the experiences my ego doesn’t like. And even there, I see the need to release resistance to my resistance, judgment of my judgment.
As I emerge from the Inner Experiment into these days of Christmas, I’m already having my own Epiphany, and it is this: I am a beautifully messy person. I am capable of great insights and terrible blindness; big love and harsh judgments. I have a heart that wants to heal the world… at the same time it wants to protect itself from being hurt. And sometimes I hurt others out of that desire to avoid pain.
And when I can have compassion for that imperfect, messy self….I am so much more capable of the great love and service to which I aspire.
So here I am, engaged in Christmas. I am moving through life with a little more patience, slowness, awareness and peace.
I pray that you find whatever it is you are looking for during these holy days. And I pray for myself that I will remember to enter into my vulnerabilities, next time I am numb to the magic.