. . . in her heart (Luke 2:19)
By Anna Bowness-Park
Christmas can be a difficult time for many families – old rivalries, hidden hurts, unresolved arguments and painful memories hide beneath the façade of merriment and tinsel, ready to break out at the slightest provocation. On the other hand, for some it is a time of loneliness, isolation or difficult memories. Many have grieving hearts at this time. Additionally we often find ourselves compelled into racing around in the Christmas rush for the perfect present, to bake the best Christmas cookies, or make the ultimate table settings.
Whatever, the demands, taking time to ponder, as Mary did upon the birth of her first-born son, Jesus, could be the best Christmas present we give ourselves this year. We don’t often think of pondering, contemplating, thinking or meditating in conjunction with prayer, yet prayer in its purest form is meditation – that is, in the Christian sense. It has a health-giving element also, because it has the ability of bringing us into a calmer state of thought that has healing potential…..
I think about how much Mary must have prayed in a thoughtful way during the entire time she was expecting a child in such an unexpected way. I wonder what she was pondering about, and it made me decide to take time in December to also contemplate in my heart.
Several years ago, I decided that instead of allowing circumstances and invitations to dictate how my Christmas would unfold, I would declare December to be a quiet month, allowing time for prayerful thinking. I call it my “NO” month! This means feeling free to say “no thank you” to any event that I feel intrudes upon my moments of meditative prayer. The result has been a much healthier month – free of the tension that comes from a sense of obligation or guilt. This does not mean it’s an inactive month, but rather a time to think about the Christian perspective of Christmas as a heart healing event, rather than a stressful human holiday.
Jesus’ entrance into this world was a healing event, and his mission was that of a healer and a teacher. His healings were dynamic, inspirational and consistent, pointing the way to a more spiritual way of considering our health. His teachings were about the foundational principles upon which those healings rested; for example, love, which has a divine source that never fails and is ever available to heal. This was his gift to us, something that I love to ponder, inviting the ideas that come with it to reside all year in my home and heart.
December is the month of Advent – a time of re-thinking, of allowing the light of love to heal the heart of painful memories, remove the unwanted buildup of past events, and to cultivate a forgiving and generous heart that embraces and loves all, including oneself. Advent shows a new way to ponder the very heart of life in more spiritual, health giving ways.
May you have a thoughtful and peaceful Christmas this year!