I have an intense Cyber Monday hangover, completely over indulged on several lightening specials, and now I want a Furby like no one’s business. I was so going to be Socrates, who lived a very frugal and simple life, and I only went to Amazon because, “I love to go and see all the things I am happy without.” That was an unfathomable lack of good judgement on my part and now I’m living in the gap with a headache. Sadly, I believe this is a common experience, the whole bloody mess, groaning in labor, bearing down hard, ushering in a new net worth for Jeff Bezos. What did I miss?
“Amazon announced this morning that Cyber Monday was the biggest shopping day worldwide in company history.” Sarah Perez
“What do we have right now? In front of us? The present moment and presumably this is all we will ever have,” claims Pema Chodron. That might be true for Socrates, but by December first I will have a vast amount of stocking stuffers, and an assortment of desirable merchandise delivered right to my front door. No one excites me like the UPS guy, who has become my modern day Santa, minus the cute reindeer, and red suit.
I realize how shallow this appears but kicking my Amazon addiction during the holidays is not happening. It’s like going against the tide (as in good tidings), challenging the status quo, possibly disrupting the GNP. The truth is I’m afraid, I fear the judgement of my peers, the disappointment (most likely all in my head) of family, and the repercussions of ignoring cultural norms. I was born in the 60’s groomed to acquiesce, accommodate, and conform. This has been my roll (although Larry might disagree) but maybe it’s time to broker a new deal?
Can you just hear him, “Forgive her, for she knows not what she is doing.”
If I understood the “reason for the season” as “the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world (Gospel of John),” then I suppose at the very least I’m required to look around at the things previously shrouded in darkness. What has been revealed by the light? My response should be more in the order of “holy shit” as opposed to “what is the current limit on my visa.”
I’ll tell you what I see, I clearly don’t have my shit together for one thing, and I’m tired of placating myself with things that do not pacify. Consumerism is so deceptive I almost forgot I hungered for belonging, compassion, connection. There are many ways to celebrate the birth of “the beloved.” I happen to know a few brave souls who have resisted the Christmas cocktail, instead of drunkenly spending on meaningless gifts, they donate to a worthy cause, serve at a local soup kitchen, or take a trip with the family, but I am weak in the presence of such grace.
Fredrick Buechner says, “It seems to me almost before the Bible says anythings else, it is saying that – how important it is to be alive and to pay attention to being alive, pay attention to each other, pay attention…to where life has tried to take you.” I’ve traveled on illuminated roads, but also dark ones, full of ruts, and abandoned cars. I think Buechner is asking me to consider the wisdom of my heart, how it feels to belong, to be overwhelmed with gratitude, or swaddled in a shroud of peace. To look at life as parable, how a drop of soap washes a sink full of dirty dishes, the way your garden grows when sprinkled with manure, or the joy of finding a twenty dollar bill in your pocket that you didn’t give to Jeff Bezos.
“Laughter is carbonated holiness” Anne Lamott.
Years ago I remember returning home from a Christmas Eve dinner and realizing I still had to wrap all the gifts. Ugg. I was tired and struggling to put four overexcited children to bed. I remember waiting and waiting for them to fall asleep before I dragged out the wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. Larry made a fire, I sat in the living room, listening to the pouring rain, only then did I realize where I was. I was in the throes of labor, preparing for his birth, in a manger, on the outskirts of Campbell. “And it seems to me the world is a manger, the whole bloody mess of it, where God is being born again and again and again and again and again and again,” says Buechner. Why am I so busy that I fail to notice this?
I have been alive for five laborious decades but I believe it was the first decade that I was the most fully alive. I discovered how to self-sooth with my thumb, how Oreo cookies could broker connection during a conflict, and Puff the Magic Dragon sung in unity with the neighborhood kids was like a prayer. I ran free, wild, enamored with every new thing I encountered. I remember laughing so hard with my friend Renee I peed my pants, as Victor Borge claims “laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” I call it the economy of connection but maybe all these gifts are creating a space between us?
“Occasionally I am overwhelmed, but mostly I am enchanted by life” Jean Houston.
I feel much the same. If I were willing to simplify, which I am not, what am I willing to live without? I might squeak by without a Nespresso Machine that makes really good foam, or a deluxe Roomba vacuum, and maybe I could survive without Alexa, but I need a Furby because it reminds me of my humble, fragile, messy dependence on God. A God who became human for me, so I could find the holiest part of myself, the place where I am most fully alive. I’m pretty sure I can still broker connection with Oreo cookies, I leave a plate of them on the mantle each year, with a glass of milk. Merry Christmas to all and in between the shopping I’ll be looking, really looking, for the manger.
I’m Living in the Gap, drop in any time.
Even though are stories may be different, they are all the same, let’s illuminate each other in the comments.