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Mindfulness at Christmas

15 Dec
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One of the Christmas bells in my mother’s collection (Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

Thank you to Irene Latham for rallying us to revive our Spiritual Journey Thursday meme, at least this once. We’re invited to reflect on our One Little Word choices for 2017.

My 2017 word was / is MINDFULNESS.

I am aware that there are psychological and, in some faiths, religious overlays to the word which may bring baggage to it that I hadn’t intended. In my February post where I talked about what mindfulness meant to me, I gave it this definition:

Mindfulness, simply defined, is “being present in the moment.” It also has a psychology definition:

“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience” – Definition from Psychology Today.

Personally I like that second definition except for the bit about not judging. I reserve the right to judge and filter out thoughts that are critical, negative, pessimistic, hateful, etc.

Now, in the middle of December, I am relating mindfulness to Advent, the candles that are lit each week in church, and the qualities each represents. So far we have focused on HOPE, PEACE, and JOY. I suspect next Sunday when we light the fourth candle, we will hear about LOVE.

I want to possess these qualities in abundance and in their purest forms, especially at Christmas. However, the circumstances of my life change and with those changes my emotions fluctuate resulting in the needle of my Hope-, Peace-, and Joy-meters becoming virtual pendulums,

Each Sunday’s sermon has helped me focus on the lasting and unchanging aspects of Hope, Peace, and Joy that play out for us in the events of that first Christmas. Hope doesn’t dim because God took the initiative to reconnect with us, and promises us eternal life beyond this life. Peace is possible because we’ve entrusted Jesus with our lives; Joy is irrepressible because we are invited into relationship with our Creator. I’m sure next Sunday’s talk on Love will deliver something just as enduring.

My challenge to myself, then, is when circumstances change—when I get the flu, or the shortbreads don’t turn out, or the weather switches off all the power and my plans go sideways, or whatever—I remain mindful of the lasting, unchanging verities of the season’s meaning, instead of losing hope, peace, joy, and love at the whim of what’s happening in my daily life.

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”—a poem that became the carol—illustrates how this worked for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who, according to this article, wrote it in the middle of the American Civil War. The carol version leaves out the two stanzas that refer specifically to the war. Here is his poem in its original form.

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Image: Pixabay

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

I’m going to take ringing bells as my cue to be mindful of the truths that Advent represents that are bigger than my fluctuating day-to-day hope, peace, joy, and love.

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This post is linked to “Spiritual Journey Thursday,” hosted today by Irene Latham. At the link-up you’ll be directed to other bloggers and their Spiritual Journey Thursday posts.

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7 responses to “Mindfulness at Christmas

  1. margaretsmn

    December 15, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Mindfulness, your word, requires presence, my word. How our words intertwine and weave a beautiful quilt. Thanks for the full text of “I Heard the Bells”, one of my favorite carols. Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Violet Nesdoly

      December 15, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      Thank you, Margaret. Yes, when we were writing about our OLWs early in the year, I recognized the similarity of the two. (By the way, the poem “Presence” I wrote when we were writing about your word, has been accepted into an anthology!)

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      • margaretsmn

        December 15, 2016 at 4:34 pm

        Congratulations!

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  2. Leigh Anne

    December 15, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Reading your words takes me into a deep vessel of spiritualness. My faith often wavers and wonders, yet I feel wrapped in your words when I visit here. They bring me comfort and such hope.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Violet Nesdoly

      December 15, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      Thank you, Leigh Ann. May your Christmas be full of Hope, and Peace, and Joy, and Love!

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  3. Irene Latham

    December 16, 2016 at 5:54 am

    Dear Violet, thank you for these beautiful words! I do a meditation practice, and one of the things I’m learning is how to let my feelings and thoughts pass by — like clouds — always with the knowledge that the clear blue sky of peace is there for me. This is a way of not judging, of not becoming too attached to any feelings/thoughts and just BEing. That’s what I think of when I think of mindfulness! So happy we got to meet one another in 2016, and I am excited to share more with you in 2017! xo

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Violet Nesdoly

      December 16, 2016 at 7:10 am

      Thanks, Irene! What an interesting technique you describe—focusing on the “clear blue sky of peace.” I love your skyward attitude!

      The happiness over meeting is mutual. That day was such a treat. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas (though tinged with sadness I know because it’s the first without your dad). And thanks again for taking up the reins for our Spiritual Thursday community.

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