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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Have You Had Your Holiday Meltdown Yet?

It was the towel bar that did me in.  My parents were arriving the next day, and the bathroom that they would be using was still not ready.  After a day of frustrating projects and pre Christmas frenzy, I was locked in a life or death struggle with the towel bar. Due to poor design and my staggering ineptitude, I had been brought to my knees. (Imagine if you will, finally getting all the support brackets in place only to find that your measurements are off by a measly half a foot.)

I was snapping at my wife, the kids, the cats, and anything or anyone that crossed my path.  I was Scrooge and the Ghost of Cranky Christmas all wrapped up in one dark holiday package.

The next day I woke up just as angry.  Along with the dangling towel bar, I had to drive an hour and a half to New Hampshire for a staff meeting.  Bah Humbug!

As it turned out, the time alone in the car was exactly the Christmas gift I needed. I clicked off the radio, and tried to open myself to God.  I was given a much needed time of reflection.  I have noticed lately that often what you see in a time of reflection is your own reflection.  Which is probably why we resist it so often.

In this case I was able to look in the mirror and see how insane I had been acting the past 24 hours. I was able to remember the memorial service for a friend just a few days ago, where we were all reminded what was important and what isn’t. (Towel bars are pretty far down the list.) I was able to pick up my cell phone and make the apology I needed to make.  I looked out the car window and for the first time noticed the beauty of a clear winter day.

Mary and Joseph had a much tougher road trip than my trip to New Hampshire.   Much is made of the challenges they faced on that arduous journey to Bethlehem, and with good reason.  But I wonder if it didn’t also help.  I wonder if it didn’t provide much needed reflection time, time to talk or just stare at the countryside.  Time to think and pray about the chaotic and confusing events of life.   Time to look in the mirror and reflect on the kind of person you have been and the kind of person you want to be. Could it be that even the blessed virgin had a holiday meltdown?  I have to believe that even Mary had some thoughts, conversations, and actions she wanted to take back.  

Finding time for reflection can be challenging in these high velocity days leading up to Christmas.  There are towel bars to hang after all.  It simply may not be possible to get the quiet time you need.  But remember:  Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem.  I had to go to New Hampshire.

Is there something you have to do, someplace you have to go, that might provide an opportunity for reflection?  How might you work with the reality of your schedule to find time to look in the mirror?

And from the Board and Staff of Lumunos, blessings for a sacred and meltdown-free Christmas.  

PS:  Make a year end donation to Lumunos, and we will send you a gift towel bar with the words “Breath” inscribed on it.  Maybe.

Doug Wysockey-Johnson
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  1. Winter came down
    To our home last night
    Pirouetting in
    On silvery-glassed slippers
    Of snow.
    And we,
    We were children once again

  2. Many thanks for the reminders.... I like the image I got from your observation, of our vehicle as a rolling meditation chamber. A reflection time capsule. And I appreciate you sharing your journey with us.

    I like Bill Morgan's poem, too.

  3. Thanks Victoria. I also appreciated Bill's poem, and your image of a "rolling meditation chamber." (Which is probably easier to pull off on empty highways in rural Vermont than in city traffic.)

  4. Thank you, Doug...too late for the melt-down free holiday, unfortunately. But as I consider your road trip I am reminded of walking my dog, Jack, during the snow shower yesterday. I did not want to go, too cold, too slippery , too many chores, just not fair. Need I go on? But walk we did and it was quiet and gentle and I took breaths (sometime I forget to do that) and actually remembered that I am not in this alone and maybe I could even hear the whisper of God around. I returned home and noticed the lights on the tree and remembered words from a memorial celebration I attended recently. And, you know what, it helps. Love, and peace.

  5. My meltdown was in the Post Office when informed that a form had not been signed properly (didn't ask what was proper) since a name and address change as the result of marriage. Too many people! Too much traffic! This morning I stayed in bed re-organizing my recipes. Later in the day had an hour with my beloved cats who always assist me in restoring my soul.