I had the good fortune to participate in a meditation via Zoom yesterday. It isn't easy to access a meditative state in today's world, much as I know it's good for me (my blood pressure actually dropped 20 points) and that it is a practice that is not only personally beneficial, but like a pebble dropped in a pond, has ripples far beyond our knowing.
One of our exercises was to imagine a place of complete comfort, a place just our own, made exactly to our liking. I tried out a number of favorite places. Pictures of a welcoming tree, a warm cove on a beach, a garden full of flowers and gentle sunlight, all came to mind. But the one that I finally stayed with was from a time when I was very young. It was late at night, and I was sitting next to our family Christmas tree. It was dark outside, and in the house, and everyone beside me had gone to bed. But the lights on the tree were still burning, the shine from the lead tinsel reflecting their colors.
It seemed an odd place to choose, at first. My childhood was not one of calm, steadying comfort. But when it was Christmas, my mother, the source of most of the chaos in our lives, became joyful, happy. Her moods always directed our lives. Sometimes I even forgot there was color in the world. But Christmas -- Christmas was different. She lost herself in decorating, choosing presents. There was still conflict, because if she was teetering towards manic, her spending would get out of hand. And this, of course, gave my dad a very real cause for worry. So he would, on those occasions, become grim-faced, tight-lipped.
But this particular image came to me from one of the years when things were going well. And there was such peace, sitting there next to the tree. A rare feeling of calm, of comfort, surrounded me. At this point, this small space in time, I felt cared for, safe.
So I stayed with that image and found my soul enriched, fed. It may have been particularly impactful because the night before I dreamt of my father. It felt like a visitation, really, if there are such things. He stood at the end of my bed and put his hands on my feet. I said, "How can I be sure it's you?" He didn't say a word, just took a few steps toward my face, and brushed my cheek, gave my ear lobe a gentle pinch. I'd forgotten that gesture. He used to do that when I was small.
These gifts given to us can't be seen, can't be wrapped or unwrapped. But they do bring great comfort and joy. May you have many in this day and every day. Approach them with gratitude, and they may show up more often.
Right now I am going to make a pumpkin pie -- which, of course, is another way to celebrate, share, and remember traditions from long ago while building new ones -- for this strange new world we live in now.