These Dark Days Ahead? Meet Them At the Door Laughing, and Invite Them In

Photo Credit: Benjamin Catapane/Unsplash

Last month I wrote in a post that I couldn’t remember ever wanting Christmas and Hanukkah season so badly, and that I have been, in the not-too-distant past, a misanthrope about the winter holidays.

Not this year, I said.

I have been hearing from customers and fellow workers a general dread of how bleak life will feel after all the celebrations. There is some kind of diversion, right now. Soon the world may feel the same as CS Lewis’s Narnia felt before Aslan returned. Always winter and never Christmas.

If I had been engaged in this Inquiry Into A Gratitude-Inspired Life thirty-five or maybe forty years ago, I would have had to confront my burgeoning hatred, disgust and resentment of what I saw as the huge commercialized hoax called Christmas before it really took root in my life. I would have been challenged to take a look at how I was stressing everything that sucked and not asking “What’s great about this?”

Moving to the Bay Area in the early 90s, my wife and I finally just became Christmas dropouts. We celebrated like our Jewish friends, going out for Chinese food, and we went to movies and had absolutely nothing to do with any of it. We sent no cards, we gave no gifts, including my own children, my mom, my brother, any one in my family, probably most of whom will never understand why I turned into an asshole about it.

I was absolutely stressing all the crap and not looking around at what was wonderful about the season. I didn’t give myself a chance to imbue this day with my own meaning. There is real sweetness about this time of year, now that I have eyes to see it again.

Photo Credit:Annie Spratt/Unsplash

The thing is, right now is a great chance to flex our meaning-making muscles. Now and when we’re facing down the rest of the long winter.

A few lines from Rumi may help, as we turn our eyes toward a New Year. It is apparently one of the most frequently recited poems in mindfulness retreats and courses around the world. That may well be true, but once it was brand new, like a classic that “everyone has read” or the movie that “everyone has seen.” Like a classic, there’s also always something new to see.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

My wish for you on this Christmas that you, even if for the briefest of moments, experience the grace of actual gratitude for something in your life, no matter what your faith tradition, and see this day, and the dark cold ones to follow, as an unexpected visitor.



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