“No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.” ― Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History
Where do we stand? It all depends on our vantage point. In the final weeks of the transformative year 2020, it feels like we have been on a very long journey. Arduous and yet revealing, this moment has laid us bare to the realities of a world that is searching. What is it that we are seeking? Where are we going? How will we find our way to the common ground so we can work together for a better world for all?
In The Civil Graces Project, I challenge that we can change the world first and foremost by doing the inner work. Like spiritual yoga, each of the civil graces is a path to creating a life of meaning. It is an invitation to look at ourselves and explore our connections with the outer realities we witness. It means unpacking the baggage of our lives and looking at what we carry. Here are some questions to consider:
- When have we been brilliant but were afraid to let our light shine because of fear or what others may think?
- What holds us back from living our truth? Is there someone or something who would benefit if we spoke our truth?
- What are we holding onto that, if released, would bring us back to balance with our core?
- Where do we need to forgive ourselves and others?
- And the biggies…Who am I? What do I feel passionate about in my life? How have I shown up this year for the people in my space and what I love?
Moving from one year to the next without reflection is missing out on the purpose of the journey. It is like accumulating all sorts of stuff but not having any sense of alignment with it until suddenly we are weighed down by it all. Life then becomes a burden, and we become hoarders of the past.
The winter solstice is coming next Monday, December 21st, in the northern hemisphere. Likewise, it is the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere. Traditionally the solstice is surrounded by ceremonies and rituals about honoring the passing of one season to the next. The word solstice comes from the Latin word sol or “sun” and sistere, meaning “to stand still” because of how the sun appears to pause in its path. We can claim this time to pause, reflect, and clean out our baggage to make way for a new year and manifest a freer sense within.
This year is an essential one to clear out because so much came forth from our collective basement. When everything is chaos, a way to overcome the storms is to go within and check our core values. One practice I do each year is to make a list of the things I want to release. I take time to be quiet, write everything down on paper, and then throw it into the flames of our fireplace. Consider doing something to commemorate letting go–lighting a candle, burning sage or incense, even ring some chimes or bells. There is a reason angels get their wings when bells ring–we can lift off from the burdens we carry just by the joyous sound.
Rabindranath Tagore once wrote, “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” We have had the most amazing sunsets for December in our area, and it reminded me of this saying and how letting go of those storms in our lives, the things we cannot control, can be so healing. When we meet our inner gremlins, we can see them for what they are and let them go. Things somehow will work out, and all we can do is show up each day and be of service however we may be called. Letting go of dear loved ones was one of the more challenging lessons this year, but love surprises in many ways to reassure us we are still connected. Time is our most precious gift, and if anything, 2020 taught us clearly to spend our moments on what is essential.
Beyond all of what we may discover in this process, freedom comes when we forgive ourselves and others. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we wipe the slate clean, but rather, we remove its ability to keep causing injury, and we find ways to act in justice and truth. We let go of the baggage but bear the lesson the experience revealed. The ending of the year offers us the gift of closure and awakening to the possibilities of what we could be. Having that experience doesn’t rely on what others do or say, but on what we choose to carry within us. Carefully move through this process with love for yourself, and then select what you will bring forth. When you are ready, pack your bags with what is essential and has truth for you, and then get ready for the adventure of a new year! Let us have courage in our hearts to be open to the graces that will guide us.
Photo credit: Vince Moro, antique suitcases we were given by a dear friend who has moved on to a wonderful new place!