Monday, November 30, 2009

Hush the Rush

Madonna and Piglet

People talk about the Christmas Rush, and they're not talking about the rush of warm feeling that descend during Advent (the four weeks prior to Christmas), but the hurried tension that descends as we try to perfect the holiday.  It could be the Halloween Rush, or the Fourth of July Rush, but it's not.  It's the Christmas Rush.  All those other holidays last but a day - but the Christmas season is prolonged. Why are we hurrying?  If Christmas is a long, and supposedly wonderful time in which to dwell, why are we racing through?

My favorite part of a children's book called Charlotte's Web is the chapter in which Wilbur learns his fate is the slaughterhouse (no that's not my favorite part - but it's coming).  Wilbur decides to escape the barnyard, egged-on by a giddy goose.  Said Goose yells contradictory commands in such rapid succession that Wilbur exhausts himself by running from end to end of the barnyard, until he collapses in exhaustion, still discouraged at his fate.  It is then that the quiet voice of Charlotte, the benevolent spider interrupts his depression, a very small voice of wisdom in the chaos.

We hurry our way through Advent and Christmas because we are listening to the giddy goose, rather than a still, small voice of wisdom.  Every year, amongst the hype and conflicting messages our we forget resolutions from the year before.  Every year our overflowing hearts wish to perfect our responses to good intentions, until we can no longer figure a way out of the barnyard, so to speak.

In Charlotte's Web, the wise spider saves the day through weaving a silent message in her web: "some pig."  Those two words would hardly seem like the master plan that would insure long life and safety to a creature destined to end up as dinner - but it works.  As a child I believed Charlotte's plan would save Wilbur, because I immediately trusted her completely (rather amazing because I feared spiders).  I trusted her quiet voice, her confidence and her love for Wilbur.

Can I give myself a bit of advice?   May I suggest that to approach the holiday season with humble quietness, confidence and love might be the way to hush the rush?  There are too many suggestions "out there" on which way to run one's life, which way to honor our traditions, which way to show love and appreciation, which way to gather and celebrate.  Within each person there is "some pig" - sufficient to his or herself and independent of these directives.  That amazing sufficiency is grace.  Being enough is what saves Wilbur's life.

How do I hear the sane voice within that reminds me I am enough?  In the hush.  Winter is a good place to find quiet: the rain turning to snowy silence as it falls - the crunch of leaves as I walk a forest of deep evergreens - the quieter music never played in malls - the sound of my own beating heart as I find the pillow, and release into sleep. The heartbeat reminds me my days on earth are preciously numbered.

"Hush the rush," I say to myself, "give yourself this gift.  Remind yourself that you - your loved ones - everyone around you - we are enough.   One-at-a-time, things can be done to bring you and others joy.  All things at once cannot be done - and will not bring joy.  Let go of the things that slip through the cracks, the things that will never be because of what is, what is not, what might never be. Grieve in quiet the losses and loneliness because they are true. And celebrate the small successes, the day to day companionships that are medicine for the heart."

There will always be plenty of good things, not all at once, but as they come.  I'm having an Advent, not an Event.


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