This is the time of year I normally feel untethered and a bit frantic. Does anyone else? The holiday season seems to bring that out in us. How did we—as adults—turn a season of wonder, love and hope into something busy and meaningless?
Precious days of the holiday season are meant to enrich, to fortify us for the dark days ahead on the calendar. This fall, as my husband was preparing to spend a week residency in Vermont for his graduate program, he bought a copy of Celebrating Solstice: Honoring the Earth’s Seasonal Rhythms through Festival and Ceremony in preparation for the featured guest speaker, Richard Heinberg. And I, being the good wife I am, stole it and read it first.
Celebrating Solstice is fascinating. Heinberg looks at human connections and community through the lens of the Earth’s natural rhythms and seasons, as well as ancient practices, their modern equivalents, and our need for seasonal renewal. I have thought, often, of consumerism’s preparation for Christmas that starts in August and skips over Thanksgiving. We are rushing to the end of the season before it even begins! Our minds sail above this season of Thanks as if it is something to be endured, and not savored—perhaps our family life creates conflict or maybe we have the kind of anxiety we cannot explain.
When I worked in a big corporate office in a tiny cubicle, I had a painting tacked up to the wall that asked, “What makes you feel like you are sitting deeply in your life?” And every time I looked at that painting, I took a breath and a pause. It begged me to ask if I was floating over the work I did everyday or if I was enriching my space. Not just my cubicle space, but my life space, the space I take up in the world. Most of the time, this brief meditation would bring my untethered brain down to earth.
Now that I have a completely different kind of life space, based at home, I ask myself different questions, though they end up in the same vein. When I get to the blue hour of 2 p.m., when school lessons are finishing up, lunch is done and the seemingly endless afternoon lies before us, directionless, I ask, “How can we enrich this time? What would make this afternoon worthwhile?” instead of my go-to, “Dear God, how can we waste a few more hours?”
Though I nearly used to curse her during those afternoons, I also find myself chasing after that flighty temptress, Time. I ask her to stay, but she doesn’t. I chase her in full force hoping I’ll wake up and have more hours in my day. But even if I have more hours, I’ll never have enough time. The more I focus on time, the more I feel lacking—I’m left wanting more. But when I invite Time in for a cup of coffee and welcome her into my own mental space, when I slow my presence, she slows down, too. This miraculous, languid pace we share together—her and I—is full of wonder and grace.
Is it our intent that can slow time? Can our own heart rhythm bring peace and help us practice everyday presence?”
I wonder if the original intent for the holiday season was not to “git ‘er done” but, rather, to feast on our lived days—the reflection, grounding and renewal that comes from inviting others to sit at our table, to laugh and to share with others from the well of our own life, regardless of how minuscule our well may feel.
Maybe the ancients knew something about the hospitable table that creates a path for a hospitable heart. Sharing our own humanity, sharing our own table, slows down the frantic season of Time and casts a great light on all the darkness that lies before us.
Mary Arteche, Founder & Editor-
Mary Arteche and her family live a small life in a vibrant way in Sky Valley, California. For her day job, she homeschools her kiddos and is a nanny to her niece. For her side gig, she’s a website designing, marketing consulting, art directing ninja. She’s passionate about the outdoors and making life an adventure. She loves printmaking, hiking, photography and finding the best cup of coffee. She just completed the Yosemite Half Marathon. Really.
Shoot me an email, I’d love to talk to you! liveintobeauty (at) gmail (dot) com