This past Saturday there was quite an accumulation of snow fall. Had it been a weekday, it more than likely would have been a snow day for many areas. As it was, the roads were very treacherous so I “self-declared” a snow day and cancelled my plans for the day in lieu of a pyjama day. With a cup of tea, a good book and a few jobs that seemed impossible to do with my busy schedule, I relished the found time.
As I’m reflecting on my decision, I realized that I didn’t have to wait for “snowmaggeden” to find the time, but only had to give myself permission to step back and take a little time to enjoy doing nothing. In fact, I’m convinced that one of the best ways to get through the busyness of this season is to not impose traditions and activities that are overwhelming and onerous, especially if this time of year is difficult due to financial hardship, job losses, or the first time when you will be without a loved one.
The first year following my divorce, I didn’t have the time, money or energy to prepare a big holiday feast so we picked up pizza on Christmas Eve and watched a comedy movie. It is just as much a treasured tradition in our house now as my mother’s elaborate holiday feast was when I was a kid. I’ve also learned that you can do something elaborate one year and choose to do something simpler the next year. Some years I’ve had a house full of people and other years just a couple of friends for a quiet dinner. Each celebration was enjoyed.
So this season, think about having a “snow” day. Give yourself permission to enjoy simplicity. Create traditions that don’t leave you exhausted and worn out. May you find time.
Some time ago, there was a picture in the Toronto Star of a mouse coming out of his cage and on top of the cage was a large cat, both staring at the camera. The caption beneath the picture explained that the mice and other rodents were being trained to detect land mines in places like Iraq so that they could be deactivated. The problem was that once the mice detected the explosives they were prone to scurry away. This meant they could potentially set one off, injuring themselves or others. To help the mice control their fears they were forced to live with one of their predators. In facing their worst fears, they were able to grow and to learn and to find a new purpose in their lives.
I wonder what the parallels are for our own spiritual journeys and especially as we journey through our grief. In grief and in loss, we are often facing our worst fears and finding ourselves trying to deal with some very strong emotions. We often feel overwhelmed.
I believe that one of the ways we can cope with challenges in our lives, especially ones that invoke a lot of fear, is to believe that somewhere, somehow there is meaning and purpose in what we are experiencing. Those mice learned to conquer their fears and in doing so were able to serve a greater purpose. Meaning and purpose take time, sometime a long time. Sometimes our purpose in grief is just knowing that we can put our arms around another person going through a similar experience and offer them hope.
Grief is one of the most difficult experiences of our lives but my hope is that in learning to move beyond the terror and fear that comes with loss and change that you will find a greater purpose.