It has been 21 months since the beginning of the Pandemic and life has been turned upside down and inside out. The majority of the news has been rife with doom and gloom and dire predictions on every aspect of our life. One has to search extensively to find uplifting stories that stir our hearts and bring a smile to our faces. The sheer magnitude of negative news and misinformation is staggering. After a while it just clutters up the mind and weighs a person down..
Yesterday I started putting up Christmas decorations. Usually this is something I enjoy doing. All through the many years, Christmas music has always wafted about our place as I pulled out time worn holiday decor from their storage spots in our closet. Each item brought back memories from long ago. This year, rather than reveling in this tradition, it somehow became a chore!
We no longer have a large Christmas tree. We did away with that years ago when climbing a ladder to decorate a 10 foot Christmas tree became a risky task for an aging body. We settled on a small 4 foot table tree which remains decorated year round. After Christmas, we simply put a large plastic bag over it and store it in one of our closets. I do not miss the time I used to spend dressing and undressing the tree each year nor the time it took to painstakingly store Christmas bulbs in little partitioned boxes.
The tree was set up in no time on our buffet table. After setting it in place, I pulled out a choir child centerpiece of my Mothers that goes back to 1965. Every time I see that piece, my Mothers smiling face comes to mind. My goodness, my heart still misses her. She was such a good Mother and an even better friend. Life goes on, as they say, but there are always those special moments that come about that I wish I could share with her and when I wish I could have one more conversation with her. Lifting this centerpiece out of the storage box brings about the yearning for a reconnection to my Mom.
In the center of our family room and in front of the fireplace sits a large square coffee table and this is where the centerpiece rests each year, and this is where I place it now.
I then set about decorating the mantle. I struggled with this for some unknown reason. I just could not get it right. While it looked nice, it gave me no joy. Why was this?
On to the dining room table…another centerpiece.
I put all holiday items not used this year into boxes to be taken to the thrift shop. Some were more difficult to part with than others. I suddenly felt weary so I just left the boxes designated for the thrift shop sitting about and went to sit down in my chair. As I looked around the room at the Christmas decor it felt cluttered and overdone.
My feet were aching from moving around in slipper socks on hard porcelain floors. No forgiveness there. I felt very tired and my spirit lagged! What in the world was the matter with me?
I fell asleep in my chair and when I woke up I realized a lot of time had passed. Looking at the clock I knew I better go to bed and catch a few winks of sleep because it was well after midnight. I toddled off to bed and I slept soundly for a few hours but then I awakened from a bad dream. The dream was disjointed and in it, I was searching for my place in the world. Somehow I did not know where I was, but I also could not remember my way back to where I belonged. I tossed and turned and finally got up and came back out into our family room and my chair. What in the world was going on here?
I think the Pandemic has completely altered my view of life and what is really important. For much of the last 21 months I have been packing up small boxes of things and sending them to the thrift shop, It isn’t difficult to part with things if one does it in small amounts. Bit by bit, our things keep going out the door. Bit by bit, I enjoy the space that emerges as things are lifted up and sent off. I always offer these things to the kids first and sometimes they happily take things and sometimes they politely say “no thank you!”. No hard feelings on my part for I am happy to purge one way or the other.
Interesting to me is my uneasiness with the Christmas decor. How much of this seasonal fare does one need after all? This morning I eliminated the mantle decorations and the table decorations entirely. I kept my Mothers choir child centerpiece (purely sentimental) and the 4 foot tree on the buffet table, along with a few decorations under the tree. Everything else was put in a box for the thrift shop.
My spirit lifted! Well, now, things that once gave me great joy no longer serve that purpose because I am no longer the same person. I guess you could say I am evolving.
A lot of clutter and uneasiness had taken root in my mind and emotions these past 21 months due to being inundated with an avalanche of negative news and dire warnings. Happily, it now seems to be dissipating since shutting off the devices that delivered them to my psyche. Eliminating social media was also helpful. I desperately needed a feeling of solitude and peace wherever I could find it. Rather than listen to everyone’s else’s life narrative, I chose to investigate and marinate in my own thoughts as I worked out in our garden. I enjoyed communing with the birds, the bees and the plants while pausing for a moment now and again to give notice to a soft breeze on my face or the warm sun on my body. I have allowed myself the luxury of time spent reading a good book here and there and relaxing time reclining back in my chair, eyes closed, taking in some beautiful soul stirring music.
My goal to surviving this Pandemic is to cultivate a relationship with self and to enjoy communing with my creator. I am reclaiming my place in this world, and MY place is “within”. This is where I find comfort and joy and where I find a sense of belonging. I still enjoy spending time with friends and of course I love my family and the times I spend with them, but all the rest is just a bunch of noise. In the Bible there is a short verse where it is written “Be Still and know that I am God”. As I remember my dream, I realize that finding my way to where I belong is to understand that while I am “in” this world, I am not to be “of” this world. I don’t have to let the people and events of this world intrude onto my inner space where God resides in the form of the Holy Spirit.
I continue to feel a sense of urgency in wanting ALL excess clutter removed, be it material goods or mental processing! My mind wants peace and quiet and a place where I can hear God speaking to me! It has been difficult for me to tune Him in amidst all that horrific negative static.
Simplifying feels like a good way to honor Christmas. Jesus was born in the most simple and humble of places, yet the story of his birth was majestic. Imagine in those days the quiet vast expanse of inky black sky dotted with countless stars under which the Wise men traveled. Imagine how one star stood out from all the rest as the brightest of lights beckoning and guiding their way to the Christ child. Imagine the stable wherein the focal point was a Mother, a Father, and a brand new baby Jesus. No clutter….just a simple place where animals and humans stood anchored and connected in the sweet smell of soft hay.
O.k. The coffee cup is empty and now I need to pack up the discarded pile of Christmas decor. Another trip to the gift shop is in my future.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and I pray that in the not so distant future we will be living a life that encompasses
more love than hate,
more joy than sorrow,
more positive than negative,
more good than evil
and a life devoid of the all distractions that clutter brings.
I am forever indebted to my Mother and all my loved ones who introduced me to a living and personal God! I am never alone. I will always keep close to my heart God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! I do not know how I would have managed in this life without Him.
Praise be to God!
Luke 2:7 ESV
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Beautifully expressed, Juanita. You have such a gift with words, and I love that you share them with us. What a blessing.