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Happy holiday-of your choice! As most of us suffer from isolation and fear-fatigue, we yearn for the cheer of holidays past. Stepping aside from any particular doctrine with no intention of belittling or offending traditional interpretations, here are a few random thoughts about a simple phrase we often hear at this time of year: “…tidings of comfort and joy.”
Tidings: news—not fake news or manufactured stories but an alert. Wake up! Look around! See that you can take reality and make something beautiful with it. You can share good tidings as children share whispers through cups joined by string or ancient peoples sent messages with drums. The sharing is the most important part—not preaching necessarily but sharing as one shares a sandwich or a warm blanket or singing. Sharing requires reaching out with bits of your self, sacrificing without losing anything meaningful, extending from your core. Words aren’t enough. Sharing is based on deeds. These tidings, this alert, is an awakening.
Comfort. We babble on about creature comforts—homes and cars and entertainments—but we know these are helpful but inadequate. In these days of trouble and grief, the comfort we need emanates from somewhere much deeper than our wallets. We need solace. We need optimism. We need a sense of community without boundaries. Comfort is knowing others care, that there is support beyond you—vaccines, caretakers, encouragement, unconditional love. Comfort is knowing you’re enough as you are, regardless of the deficiencies you’ve demonstrated, because you’re part of a greater whole. You’re gloriously human, assigned to grow. Impermanence that feels like a curse is the gift—always a fresh beginning waiting in the wings for us to realize starting again is okay. This comfort is a loving hug, assurance that life will go on. We can do better. That’s the meaning.
Joy: Relief. Crystalized hope. Bliss that runs deep. The happy giggles children express when they discover snowflakes or puppies or empty boxes. Curiosity and glee. Surprise and delight. Feeling a sense of magic and wonder. Knowing we don’t have solid answers to everything and that’s okay because we love to be amazed. Knowing we’re part of the unknown “X” that just might become more than we could imagine or better than we guessed if we keep trying. Knowing honest love is the power that will answer our ultimate questions, whether we ask the questions or not.
May we go forward into the future bravely and with kindness to find our comfort and joy.