Christmas is a Time to Love

heart shaped stones - cropped

“Oh, look! Almost a heart!” The pebble replies, “Sometimes we are not perfect, but people love us anyway.”

I find myself many times holding this perfect yardstick up to others—and to myself! It’s a struggle, though, to identify what is perfect, what is a perfect heart? How much easier and effortless to just simply Love What Is. Let it be. Love. Unconditionally.

I was remembering a song from Psalty’s Christmas Calamity  that my students did years ago, got curious, and found a wonderful rendition on YouTube of “Christmas is a Time To Love.”

 

For me, this simple song and message remind me to just love. All the crazy Christmas activity, presents to buy, parties and get-togethers to attend, cards to send, extra calls, texts, emails, mail, decorating, family functions, driving here and there, crowded stores, and frustrations when these things aren’t the way we want. I’m singing that song in my head at the Wal-Mart checkout line to remind me that Christmas is a time to love.

So, this Christmas, my list is:  1. To love. That’s it.

I read an article about the 1914 Christmas Truce agreement between German and British, Belgian, and French troops during World War I. Both sides agreed to climb out of their trenches, put down their rifles, and have a quiet Christmas eve and day of singing carols in their own language, exchanging gifts, and maybe a soccer game. Later it was back to the business of war, but I’ve wondered why, if they could practice peace for a short time, why couldn’t it last?

xmas truce

So, I also decided that even after Christmas, I will have at the top of my To Do List:

  1. To love.

That’s it.  I will continue to practice love even when the Christmas season is over.  It should be a fun experiment!

The Bible says to let all that we do be done in love. Dishes, decorating, talking and listening to people, shopping, driving, paying bills, appointments, everything. Let everything be done in love.  The Bible also says to love one another.  So there. That’s what we are to do.  Love everybody, even the ones we consider “imperfect.”

Love is the most powerful force in the universe, and yet one of the most misunderstood.  There are so many facets of love, the Greek language has from four to six different names for what English just calls “love.”  The differentiation goes up the chakra system from erotic love (eros), to friendship and brotherly love (philia), playful love (ludus), longstanding love (pragma), self-love (philautia), to agape love, which is selfless, charitable love for all people.  C. S. Lewis refers to agape love as “gift love,” and in Buddhism it is “metta,” or universal lovingkindness.  What a wonderful gift this Christmas (and after) to give love to everyone with whom we come in contact.

I Corinthians 13 is considered the Love chapter.  This season I choose to give and receive as a continuous flow, seeing and treating each other from a higher perspective.  “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends. Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Copyright 2017 Linda Parks. Used with permission.

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Tree Pose

A few years ago I went to a Parks family reunion. There, plastered on the wall, was a huge family tree with names near the trunk of our ancestors, all the way from the 1800’s (maybe even 1700’s) and out to the tiniest branches of new babies.  As I gazed, amazed, I also felt a twinge of failure as I looked at my branch, which ended abruptly with my name.  Beside mine was my brother’s name with his spouse, branches full and blossoming with names of his children and grandchildren, continuing the Parks family name. To me it was a visible reminder of my failure to achieve the most basic of successes, marrying and bearing children.

One morning I came across this picture of a tree in all its glory with branches lush above the ground, but underground is another tree, just as lush and gorgeous.  That underground tree is called the root system. Without this vital root system to support the visible tree, to take in nourishment from rain and minerals in the soil of Mother Earth, the visible tree branches would not survive.

tree

The tree goes through yearly and seasonal changes, sometimes green and full; sometimes popping with reds, oranges, and yellows for a time; sometimes barren of all leaves.  The root system, however, remains through the changing seasons, supporting and taking in nourishment.

Every morning I sit quietly and alone, praying for my family members, supporting and nourishing them underground, so they can grow and flourish to their highest and most glorious potential above ground.

When I do tree pose in yoga class, I teeter back and forth on one leg, arms raised worshipfully above my head in such a beautiful display of ancient Vrksasana, ever mindful that my pose could not stand without that leg supporting it. We don’t notice the leg, though. Many successful ventures noticeably flourish above ground, highly visible, talented, creative, and productive. Unseen, unnoticed, and underground remains the supportive root system of people working silently and continuously, just as beautiful and important as the tree above.

It is helpful to note, too, that sometimes we are the supportive root system, but sometimes we are the beautiful above the ground tree, full of succulent fruit, lavish leaves, and flowering branches.

Copyright 2017 Linda Parks. Used with permission.