We’ve survived the first of the big holidays in a season of excess and ambivalence. Some of us would just as soon skip December but that’s not an option. We’re going to have to get through the month one day at a time.
Our community, like our country, is divided and suffering.
Perhaps family members are far away and in danger. Some who were a single paycheck from homelessness last year have fallen off the edge into horror.
My grandmother knew hard, scary times, too. She raised six children during the Great Depression, and lost a son during WW II. Life may have been less complicated then, but it wasn’t any easier.
Gram had a little technique for getting through life that might help us now. I offer it up for your consideration. All it takes is a commitment to do four simple things every day. Do something for yourself. Do something for another. Sing a song. Say a prayer.
The something that you do for yourself can be anything from a cookie with your afternoon coffee to warming your pajamas by the stove.
The important thing is to do it consciously, as a gift to yourself and an act of love.
Doing something for another doesn't mean involvement with a volunteer agency or organization, but a simple one-on-one act.
It might mean handing a bag with some fresh fruit and a couple cans of stew to a Dumpster diver, feeding wild birds or offering to visit with an elder so that a caregiver can slip away for a break. Again, the important thing is that you do the act consciously, with your heart open and loving.
Singing needn’t — and in many cases shouldn’t — be done in public. Sing in the shower or in the car on the way to work.
No fair skipping this step; it may feel silly at first, but the act of singing releases endorphins, the body’s natural tranquilizers, which is why even singing the blues feels so good.
Saying a prayer is a delicate suggestion, but like the other three steps, we’ve got lots of leeway. The only criteria is that we consciously talk about something on our minds and hearts to something which is not human.
You can talk to a Creative Force, by whatever name you choose. You can talk to a tree, a totem, a saint. I talk to all of the above — may as well cover all the angles.
I submit for your consideration the opinion that every one of us is doing the best we can with the understanding that we have.
No matter what our politics, our spiritual beliefs, our degree of education, affluence or poverty, we really are doing the very best we know how under trying circumstances.
If we commit ourselves to these four simple steps through the next month, we’ll find ourselves in the first week of January. From there, on a clear day, you can practically see spring.