May Your Memories Bring You Wisdom and Compassion This Holiday Season
Fall is one of my favorite times of year. The cooler weather and bundling up make me nostalgic for family and friends. Watching the leaves change from green to golden yellow, red and orange brings me back to a time long ago, a time before lines and shadows mapped out their story upon my face. Memories that have faded or felt lost are closer to the surface and visit more often, sometimes without warning during this holiday season.
On a recent afternoon as I sat with dear friends to take a break from work and eat a simple lunch, a seemingly casual question came up. But for me, there was nothing casual about it and I tried to hide the pain that I felt when they asked, “What were the holidays like for you as a child?” My stomach tightened and a wave came over me that could not be denied. I answered lightly and a little too quickly, “They were a little sad but we had enough… but not quite.” And then I added, “I didn’t need too much.” Then I excused myself to wash a couple of dishes.
As a Buddhist practitioner, times like this are welcomed and experienced as an opportunity. Deeply felt emotions are seen as jewels that glitter in the sunlight inviting me to see the luminous, empty quality of all feelings including the dark and the light. Simultaneously, deeply held emotions remind me that an eternal child lives in this impermanent, composite body that I call Me and I cannot deny what happened, no matter how “empty.”
Later that same day, the soft voice of a sweet elderly woman ringing me up at the local pet store almost brings me to tears as memories of my gentle mother long since gone fill my heart. Gratitude fills my whole being these days. The good and the bad memories mix together in a collage called my life, each translucent memory slowly turning forward with courage and compassion.
May your memories bring you wisdom and compassion this Holiday season