Calm Before the Storm
My good friend suggested I should learn to meditate.
Another says yoga is the way to go.
A third says an afternoon nap is healthy.
They might be right – I’ve heard experts confirm the benefits of meditation, yoga and naps.
But who would feed the lambs and keep the cattle inside the electric fence while I tuned out?
Who would check in with my sixth grader’s teacher or make Christmas cookies while I napped?
I have to admit that tuning out is especially appealing at this time of year, though.
We don’t have TV at our house so we miss most of the insistent commands that we absolutely must have the latest and greatest widget. I’m generally susceptible to the guilt trips of advertisers – until they tell me to remember a hostess gift or imply that I will be personally responsible for the downfall of society if I don’t saturate my yard with Santa decorations.
I’m lucky if I don’t track unmentionables into the hostess’ house, much less bring a dust collector gift that she will toss out as soon as I leave.
And the wind will blow yard decorations to all the way to North Dakota.
But more than that, yard decorations would interrupt my single form of so-so meditation.
The silence of the early dawn.
The stars of another world, so far away, so different from mine. The stars are my grandmother’s wisdom. The silence offers the opportunity to listen to that wisdom.
The dawn makes me forget all that needs to be done today.
I stand. Look up.
My grandmother’s wisdom seeps into me.
The innate goodness of my family, my community, my country and my world. It reappears over and over despite being buffeted by what I know will come charging at me as soon as I let go of this moment.
Faith and wonder and goodness stand strong in that dark silence. The dawn reminds me that they are always standing strong, waiting for me to find them again.
As my daughter, Abby, and I walk the half a mile to the bus stop, I realize the darkness is not the only symbol of tranquility.
Our Christmas lights are an island in the darkness, casting beauty across the snow.
A few years ago, those lights shared more than beauty.
Our chance to put the meaning of Christmas into action came with a frantic knock on the door one morning.
As the kids and I were getting ready to walk to the bus, a man had rolled his pickup on the county road. He had managed to crawl out of the driver’s window, then spotted the Christmas lights on our house. In the deep snow, fog and below-zero temperatures, he hiked toward those lights, the only lights for several miles. He stumbled through our pasture and across our creek, hoping we might be able to help.
His surprise visit that early morning dawn jump-started me out of my pre-Christmas funk, reminded me that the best gifts come from time and effort, not a store. The man who rolled his truck gave me far more than we gave him.
I don’t know if that sort of revelation comes to a person who meditates more often, or sinks in deeper for a person who concentrates on yoga.
I do know that that sort of revelation comes when I step outside, to the sights and smells and silence of the early dawn, where the meaning and wisdom of Christmas imbues my heart.