After the Orgy of Christmas

Each of us is an artist of our days; the greater our integrity and awareness, the more original and creative our time will become.
John O’Donohue

I’ve been thinking about this quote post Christmas, after the orgy of family, food, drink, presents, gatherings, and layers of memories have been stacked in the closet. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas (not tree decorating, but the opportunity to birth something new, something salvific, something original), and especially the gift of time spent with the people I love. O’Donahue writes, “each of us is an artist of our days.” There could be no truer statement for me. I realize I enflesh my thoughts with words and deeds. This is who I am. The part that challenges me is the “greater our integrity and awareness” clause. This is our one chance (or one of many if you are buddhist) to reach our full potential. This is it, there are no dress rehearsals, we are a live production (sorry I could not resist). I worry that much of what I do and say is informed by years of overindulging on the baser seasonings of life. Things with no inherent value, such as The Bachelorette, tawdry gossip, Two Dots, People Magazine, derogatory self-talk, Facebook, Twitter, or worse dime store romance novels. I wonder if it is possible to transcend my own experience? 

I love to watch my granddaughter, Audrey, build her well of experience. Life is play. She responds resolutely to her inner promptings. She does not stifle her irritation or monitor her emotions. Every moment I get to spend with her is relevant. It is how I become her living water, that deep satisfying presence, for which we all thirst. We long to be that for each other. Watching my children enter into Audrey’s world gives me that sense of déjà vu. I see them adding to the depth of her well, becoming an essential part of her life, but it is Audrey’s parents that will have the most profound influence. I am deeply grateful for their covenant to this work. My parents seasoned me with salt and pepper, I think I lean towards the peppery, but it is the salt that preserves me (thanks mom). Paul Muldoon writes, “I fell between two stones and they raised me like their own.” I love the solidness of stones, people you can depend on, come hell or high water. Soon enough she will be seasoning her own life, and as Robert Frost claims, “that will make all the difference.”

I remember thinking adults must know everything, they have it all together, they know exactly what to do in every situation. As an adult, I realize I know nothing at all. And now I believe thinking like a child, open to the inexplicable, a faith that life will sustain me, must have been what Jesus meant when he said, “unless you change and become like little children” full of wonder and delight, you will never experience heaven. I consider heaven a state of mind. That doesn’t mean everything is good and right, it means I look for the good and right, especially during the storms. My true self trumps my most exalted thoughts. I am live, naked, and exposed. It is not possible to hide your true self. Even after death, we leave a fingerprint on every surface, and every person we touch. I love the way children see the world. I remember when I first saw snow falling, I thought it was a cherry tree, losing its spring blossoms. I was five. It was all I had in my arsenal of experience to explain the white fluffy snowflakes falling from the sky. Now I wish I had more poetry in my arsenal, a deeper understanding of art, music, and nature from which to draw. I am still digging my well.

Rare is the time I soak in the tub, or soak in a good poem, or even soak in my thoughts. I’ve been taught it is important to be doing, to achieve, to accomplish (like folding laundry, which I am proficient at doing). You can not be afraid of lounging with your thoughts if you want to be an artist of life. The older I get the more I know this to be true. I might not fully understand what I want to express, sometimes it is a frustrating process, or strenuous labor (like gardening). A thought I gleaned from Paul Muldoon, “it is not what I have to reveal but what it [the art] has to reveal.” We do not know why we were created, but our integrity to the truth, certainly adds to the authenticity of our expression. I love the last part when O’Donahue claims, “the more original and creative our time will become.” That’s why community is so important, no one can be an expression without the other, alone we are just an illusion, with no fingerprints to leave behind.

Thank you to Krista Tippett for her on-going inspirational podcasts On Being with Krista Tippett

If you want to soak up a few more go to Living in the Gap

Don’t be afraid to leave a comment, gives me the illusion that I am not alone, or a reason keep writing. 

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