Small Kindnesses & Pockets of Joy Reflected in December’s Dark Mirror

… And an invitation to turn the page in a “Release & Renewal Conversation With Friends”.

December has been an unusually hard month for me.  A combination, perhaps, of me being a year older with more health challenges than last winter and watching the world we call home become darker, with the seasons themselves less predictable.  Approaching the year’s longest night, I naturally turn to poetry and music. Sometimes it helps. The late William Stafford tells us in “A Ritual to Read to Each Other”, the darkness around us is deep. He reminds us in his inimitable way that … If you don’t know the kind of person I am and I don’t know the kind of person you are, a pattern that others made may prevail in the world

So, this month I’ve been down and I’ve been dark (and mostly absent), but I think I’m finally over it. I’ve definitely been influenced and my spirits lifted by words from Substack’s 26th Avenue Poet,  who has posted three beautifully provocative poems this month …   “The Advent Calendar With Bob”, about who belongs, “The Return”, (written on the Crosstown Bus) about what He might be like if He came back today, and “The Pageant”, reminding us that every year It shows up and invites us into its story whether or not we’ve learned our lines.  If the place you’re in is a little dark, I hope you’ll  take a few minutes to read about the inevitable coming of Christmas.

And then there’s Irving Berlin, the Jewish American composer responsible for perhaps the most famous Christmas song ever … the eternally nostalgic “White Christmas” (not the version you expect) inviting Everyone to celebrate the Holiday whether we also sing “Away in a Manger” or not.  I got to thinking about Irving Berlin and what else he had contributed to American music. Did you know he not only wrote the music for “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor”, but sang it in 1918 as well?  Speaking of reminders, maybe a good time to listen to this.

And speaking of reminders again, here are words that helped me round a corner. They’re from David Ockunzzi.  Joy in its purest form is reliant on nothing but awe and openness to something other than our perception of our present selves. While similar, it is far from happiness … in the dark places, you must store joy where it is accessible for when it is necessary.

So I went on a hunt for pockets of Kindness & Joy in the midst of the darkness we call ‘news’ these days.  I filled four pockets with these.

In Fayetteville, North Carolina 60 Third Graders Get Bikes for Christmas!

In Clarkston, Georgia a dad learns from his 11-year-old son there’s more than one way to win a 5-kilometer race.

In Las Vegas, Nevada Hundreds of Strangers Send Gifts to Make Teens’ Wishes Come True

And right here in Portland, Oregon, my friend Trish, recovering from a nasty fall that broke both her wrist and her hip, was treated, along with her husband, to an authentic Haitian dinner prepared and delivered to her home by an authentic Haitian caregiver from the rehab facility where she’d spent the intervening weeks.  Like “Little Friend” in the previous story, theirs is another example of the “temporary” encounters that leave lasting imprints on our hearts.

And if all that is not enough, I’d like to close with these words from the late John O’Donohue, who never fails to bring light.

There is a quiet light that shines in every heart. It draws no attention to itself, though it is always secretly there. It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty, our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life. Without this subtle quickening our days would be empty and wearisome, and no horizon would ever awaken our longing. Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us that is wedded to the energy and excitement of life. This shy inner light is what enables us to recognize and receive our very presence here as blessing.

O’Donohue reminds us that that an even greater blessing is our presence here together, as mirrors and magnifiers of each other’s light. “Whenever you give a blessing, a blessing returns to enfold you”, he says.  I like that idea and I like it that he calls these moments of profound light-to-light connections thresholds, portals to transformation, or invitations to a more radiant life.

I want to polish up my quiet light and look toward a more radiant life in 2024 and I would love to share a year-end exchange of blessings with you.  Are you available to join us for a Zoom Conversation With Friends focused on Release & Renewal ?  What might you like to let go of and what do you want to bring forward into the New Year 2024? Saturday, December 30th at 11am PST.  Register here & we’ll send you the link.

And for one last Pocket of Joy, I can’t help but share my annual winter walk through the streets of Portland.

Blessings on Us All Until Next Time,
Sulima

Published by Sulima Malzin

This 'Aging Rascal & Occasional Writer' invites you to embrace the world through her open window of poetry, art, activism, music, and humor.

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