Is it possible to experience Jubilee during the holidays?
We sing of joy, of hope, of love. We gather as families and friends to delight in one another, in community, to offer comfort for those hurting, to offer grace to ourselves and others, seeing our souls as one, connected to Divine. We give to enjoy the beauty of generosity and celebrating life and the connection to universal abundance and grace! We light our houses and trees to celebrate the return of the light (with all the various and incredible metaphors this holds). We invite Santa down the chimney and offer our gratitude with cookies and milk to celebrate generosity and whimsy!
Or, at least this is what we desire on a fundamental level – it is why we keep coming back to these holiday traditions and why underneath the layers of stress, obligation and guilt that so often cloud all of the above, we still have those inexplicable moments of joy, where the light shines in our eyes, where we laugh spontaneously, where we simply revel in the beauty of the holiday, where we feel the abundant and nurturing comfort from those who love us completely, because it sparks in us a deep reminder of the truth, of the abundant gifts of the season.
So, why does this deep jubilee or joy only come in moments, in a breath, in a sudden whoosh – and then disappear in the angst of family communication, gift-buying, food preparation, travel, and cheesy music?
Or, perhaps the more useful question… how do we really settle in to the energy of the season and allow it to fill us completely? How do we revel in what is? How do we live from a place of centered peace, opening to the invitation inherent in the return of the Light, the remembrance of who we are – Divine Beings, celebrating our Divine connection?
““Whatever happens in the world is real, what one thinks should have happened is projection. We suffer more from out fictitious illusion and expectations of reality.” ~Jacque Fresco
I believe that the expectations we rehearse and hold to tightly are often the root of this discontent so common during the holiday season. Rather than bringing us into the light, allowing us to feel joy and jubilee, the holiday time cultivates angst, frustration, despair and stress. This is not true and appropriate grief of loss, or the sadness inherent in seeing life as it is, or the anger and injustice done. This is the ruminating, patterned irritation that things aren’t the way we planned. That here we are again in another holiday “festive” occasion where we tried so hard to make it fit our expectations of joy and light, and yet we feel completely ill at ease and full of disappointment.
This is not about putting a shiny happy face on a painful or challenging situation, or wishing away the difficulty, the sadness and the struggle.
This is also not about creating a new expectation that we think will be more fulfilling. An example of this is the trend I hear so often (and am guilty of myself) to keep the holidays simple. All it takes is one glance at a magazine like Real Simple to know that this expectation of simplicity is an overzealous and non-realistic expectation fraught with the possibility of disappointment.
““Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations.” ~Paul Rand
Family and friend gatherings bring in everyone’s individual expectations. And, I want to be very clear. The expectations are not good or bad. They are a reflection of our past, of our current desires, of our stuck places and our memories of joyous times. They are what we strive for. And, they change! They are not static! This is absolute!
In this lies the invitation that may open us to jubilee!
Can we recognize our own expectations? Can we investigate them to see where these expectations are coming from? What needs are we trying to meet? This is key! Being able to recognize our own needs gives us the ability to identify them for ourselves, communicate them to others, ask for help, and find ways to meet them or allow the need itself to soften. Without identification, needs are often muddled with story and history to the point we no longer know what they are and have no idea how best to meet them. How then could we expect anyone else in our lives to know and help either?
Here lies the rub. This practice takes quiet. It requires “white space” in our lives. In order to learn and practice presence, we have to schedule and prioritize daily moments of stillness. This is a time to listen to our own thoughts, to investigate our stories, to observe our world exactly as it is, to offer gratitude. As the schedule ramps up and the to-do lists lengthen, we default to our business, to our doing. I say, emphatically, we must stop and honor and schedule the time for quiet, for reflection, for noticing life as it is, in this moment.
Through this identification and presence, can we soften? Can we allow for reality to be even more present and bright and palpable than the lens of the expectations we carry? In this incredible reality, there will still be grief, loss, pain and sadness. There will also be joy, beauty, abundance, and peace. All of the above are the richness of life that we have the deep privilege to experience. Each can be felt and digested without suffering, without deep angst, without the development of disease. Expectations unmet often hold resentment, and undigested emotions get stuck in our very physical being. Disease manifests. Relationships become corroded. Suffering takes the place of presence. When the experiences are held with a soft presence, with a full awareness of reality; when we have cleaned our lenses or even better yet, removed them all together, then can we truly experience an abiding presence of joy, peace and comfort!
I invite you (and myself), to practice in moment for this truly is a practice. The expectation that this all occurs overnight, because this desire for whole-hearted holiday presence has become our new “way of being” is fraught with just as much suffering as any other stuck or unresolved expectation.
This is purely the invitation to court presence, to practice a few moments each day this season and on into the new year. May the practice bring peace, deep abiding comfort, joy and maybe even jubilee!