[COLUMN] Taking the time to just be this Christmas

It’s that time of year again. And every year, whether we like it or not, we go through the same rituals.

This is a time of winnowing and thinning, just like the fall season when we prepare for hibernation and rest and when balance must to be restored by slowing down the pace to bring back equilibrium.

For now, Christmas gives us a major reprieve. We have a solid excuse to find joy, peace and contentment and even rediscover what Christmas really means. Perhaps, stripped of the material layers, the Christ-centered core values of a truly meaningful Christmas will come to the fore AND take center stage.

Going through the motions, we assume that the emotion of joy should follow. We do the lists, mass email the e-cards, shopping for presents, the decor, the cooking, the parties — hoping that by doing all these we would have an infusion, a dose of the Christmas spirit within us.

Some people have it down to an art and science. They know the secret of being joyful in all kinds of weather. You can see it in the glimmer in their eyes, the extra bounce in their gait and the aura that they exude about them even if troubles of every kind assail them.

A great many, however, still feel empty even if they fill their time with activities and max out their cards at the shopping malls or on online purchases. Deep down, they know that things are just stuff, no matter how beautiful or how pricey.

The spirit of Christmas is a mystery. It cannot be pinned down. It cannot be put on. It is only when we dwell within the deep recesses of our souls that the true spirit of Christmas comes slowly, quietly, enfolding us in its warm embrace.

That somewhat elusive spirit will come and alight upon us like a butterfly during quiet moments when our senses are sharpest. Take a deep breath and experience Christmas with your senses. Lose the remote control. Break free of the electronic leashes for a little while. Take the time to JUST BE.

We can use our sense of sight and see, as though for the first time, the splendor of nature all around us — of trees garbed in vermilion red, yellow and gold putting on their finest raiment in quiet anticipation of some glorious event about to happen. We have cloudy mornings and periodic gentle rains these days in our neck of the woods  this December but these too should bring us joy. The rains bring us cleaner oxygen to breathe in.

When the clouds clear out, a canopy of blue skies with light wisps of fluffy white clouds provide a backdrop for the verdant hills and mountains bathed in shafts of golden light. At night the streets are aglow with  twinkling lights simulating the glow of millions of fireflies.

Though a sight to behold, our puny human efforts pale in comparison with a glimpse of the universe just above our heads — stars that seem to shine brightest on the clearest skies about this time of the year.

Step out during a clear night, turn off the boob tube, get out of the rut of the insipid details and mundane activities that seem to pass for real life and look heavenward. If you are patient, the sight of shooting stars and meteor showers might reward you.

Better yet, make a beeline for that awesome telescope at Griffith Observatory if you live near Los Angeles and prepare to be amazed. Stargazing can leave you breathless in the same way it has moved generations of men before us.

The best part about it is that like the air we breathe, the sight of the heavens is still absolutely free. The most awe-inspiring nightly galactic shows are at about this time of the year. Some nights, you might want to search the heavens for that one shining star that the Magi used as a guide to steer them by through the desert looking for the Christ Child more than two thousand years ago. It might just happen that during one of these nights while stargazing, you might rise above our puny mortal concerns and stand in awe of the majesty of creation.

That we are a part of it all puts everything in perspective. We may be tiny and insignificant but we are part of creation. We come to realize that human life is a gift and that what we do with that life is our gift in return.

As best as scientists can figure out, the universe is some thirteen and a half billion years old. Being aware of this mind-boggling space-time continuum can take a huge bite out of our ego and our sometimes obsessive-compulsive self-absorption.

The sight of the heavens can cut down our bloated egos down to size. Even if we live to be a hundred, human life is just a blink of an eye in eternity.

The nose knows. That proboscis jutting out of our faces does a truly important function. Do handle it with real care particularly during this season of colds and flu. Well I did catch it and tried to stay away from people. It could have been worse if I didn’t get my flu shot. Catching a cold or worse, the flu, deprives us of the enthralling, beguiling smells of cooking and baking and sabotages our sense of taste as well.

If you have time, that glorious, welcome gift of all for most of us with far too many hats to wear OR if you can beg, borrow or steal just a few hours to allow you to meander about your days and nights and deliberately trudge paths off the beaten track of shopping and carousing during this season, take in more of the smells that lift you.

They call it aromatherapy. But in the unpretentious days of old, it was merely the simple act of smelling what smells good to make you feel good. Lavender is great. So is rosemary. Try crushing some of their leaves from the garden between your fingers and sniffing it. Lemon verbena’s dainty smell is sheer delight though passing and transient. Like glorious moments, the lemon verbena’s scent is so ephemeral but the delight to the senses while the scent lingers makes it all worthwhile.

Find out what beguiles your senses and let these bring you the delights of this blessed season. Don’t strain yourself or try too hard. Again, remember to picture the Christmas spirit as an elusive little butterfly that alights on you only when you are very still.

Let your senses soak it all in. The true Christmas spirit, once it dwells in you and suffuses your being stays on autopilot. It stays on to warm your heart all year round like embers that just need a little stoking from time to time to keep it burning.

All you are, with all your senses, is all you need TO JUST BE.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya writes for Asian Journal. Email [email protected] for comments.


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