For a year or so, I worked with a woman who is a medium and energy worker in Floyd, Virginia – Catherine Morningstar. I would drive to her house and we’d sit at her kitchen table where we would talk about whatever was on my mind. Her eyes would occasionally dart in one direction or another toward where she was apparently seeing a spirit guide; sometimes she would bargain with them, “I’m not saying that that way!” And then she would find another way to convey whatever she had heard.
I never did feel the need to see her process as a literal communing with the dead nor to dismiss it as such. I’m enough of a cynic to have my doubts and, at the same time, I’m all sorts of aware of how I know basically nothing about how this universe and its energy actually work. (Reaching 40 came with the gift of feeling pretty doggone comfortable with the truck loads of not knowing.)
Letting go of thinking I need to have a concrete belief about existence beyond my first-hand experiences leaves a whole lot more room for just gathering wisdom and insight from wherever they might present while doing as little judging as possible.
For example, Catherine said that we make agreements with the notable people in our lives before we come into each life. (Yes, reincarnation was a theme as were the visiting spirits of dead ancestors – can we both exist in the spirit world and reincarnate after death? Yet again, I neither know nor need to know.) We say things like, “In this life, we’ll meet up as siblings and I’ll give you the opportunity to learn one, two, and three, and you’ll give me the opportunity to learn x, y, and z.” We hug on it or do the secret spirit handshake or whatever happens in this possibly-imagined energetic realm and then go about the business of being born.
I love two things about this idea:
- It’s a nudge to reframe every challenge and every challenging person as an opportunity to learn rather than seeing them as just a pain in the big toe.
- It’s the ultimate in personal responsibility; I agreed to this person and to this lesson so that I might learn in this lifetime.
For many of us, the holiday season is charged. We might be seeing people that we avoid the rest of the year. We might be feeling the absence of loved ones more acutely. We might be needled by the sharp stick of being different from social norms: Not being from a Christmas-celebrating tradition while everyone else is showing off pictures of their trees decorated with nostalgia and tinsel, or being single when New Year’s Eve seems second-only to Valentine’s Day for holidays that require romance.
What if, instead of being victimized by these hurts, you instead saw them as opportunities to learn, stemming from the agreements you made before you came into this life?
What if the flush of grief that rises for those who are gone is a reminder to embody those people’s best qualities while allowing yourself the full human experience of feeling all the feels that come with mourning?
What if your creepy Uncle Moe is enacting his side of the agreement to help you learn to create and maintain your own boundaries with centeredness, grace, and solidity?
What if your feelings of otherness were a lesson in compassion for all people experiencing exclusion, perhaps even those you have excluded, whether intentionally or not?
I’m not saying that this shift will magically leech the discomfort out of the holiday season, but perhaps reframing will help you relax enough that you can really enjoy that slice of sweet potato pie with fresh whipped cream rather than scarfing it down like a sugary slice of numbing.
Whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate, whether this is the most wonderful time of the year to you or the worst, I wish you peace, self-love, and, yes, that real whipped cream. It’s just so much better than the stuff in the tub…