Family visited. Christmas story read. Presents opened. Husband and children playing merrily. Turkey stuffed in the oven. Listening to The Bravery while I clean up the spoils of plastic, twist ties, wrapping paper and scrape up breakfast cinnamon roll mess. The drummer in that band reminds me of Mike Budd. The sound makes me think of The Cure. I wonder if they grow old gracefully.
Today I have all the time in the world. I'm thoughtful about how I'll do things differently next year, so it doesn't seem such a whirlwind. I am a little disappointed in myself that we didn't do handmade gifts in Santa's Workshop this year. Instead we finished the school semester well and traveled to visit family. In the past I let the academic schedule go to fit it all in, but my brood can't afford the distraction if we are to stay on track.
Last night, I stayed up late watching Charlie Rose. He interviewed Rev. Peter Gomes.
I confess I don't know much about him, but to me, his words were profound. He encouraged us to remember the opposite of fear is compassion. He spoke of how so many people are ruled by fear. They order their day by fear. It crossed my mind that over these holidays I dreaded something in particular and how thoughts of it overshadowed and invaded a good many of wonderful experiences. I let my fear get in the way. Gomes suggested something revolutionary- that facing our fears, even gaining understanding of the people or circumstances would build compassion.
Don't get me wrong. I am not a fearful person. I often do and say things which take guts. However, anger is much more my weakness. I've come to know that if I dig deep enough, generally fear is behind the anger. If I'm outwardly mad because something of mine is wrecked, then deeper still is that feeling of "Doesn't anyone respect or care for me the way I need them to?" If I don't get my way, I may pitch an ugly fit, but inside silently cry, "Love me enough to give me what I want!" In the calm of most days of this abundant life, I see clearly that both these demands for respect and love exceed human capacity. Only the One who made me can wholly offer me these gifts of love and respect perfectly, and I've only to receive with open hands and heart. This concept requires resolve to comprehend in the heat of a difficult moment. If I can stop demanding perfection unable to be given, then I can move into compassion for the other person involved at the end of my disappointment.
I can let go of my fear, my need and contemplate the true need of the other person. Gomes nailed it for me.
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