Sweep the floor clean and open the windows! It’s a brand and grand new year! And in order to make it the absolute best, one of the most important activities that we can practice (besides good mid-winter cleaning) is forgiveness. Here’s why:
The new year offers many opportunities for us to do better than we did previously. Relate to others. Take good care of our health. Reach out. Expand our horizons. Or, just be better right at home. But this is virtually impossible to do if our hearts are overburdened with resentful, angry feelings toward ourselves or others.
For example, a serious illness can stir up tremendous anger at the illness, life, God or our bodies This anger can take away precious energy, energy that we need to be able to do the things necessary for our health. It can sap us of the will to be positive toward others. It truly can make us and, seemingly, our lives miserable. Forgiveness applied to the wounds sustained by life with a serious illness can help turn all the negativity into healing. Not a cure of the illness, but a healing that can open channels of love, appreciation, and more of a personal relationship with God. Just saying, “I forgive,” can start the journey of a better outlook on life with illness, and there’s no better time than the start of a new year to do so!
Another area where forgiveness can bring bright, shining newness is in our relationships with others. If someone honks we’re waiting for a disabled parking space, rather than getting upset, just saying, “I forgive,” can let anger and the stress it creates dissolve away. If someone we love seems to not care “enough,” forgiving the person for the perceived failing while being grateful for the part they do play in our lives can help turn us from feeling lonely to feeling truly loved.
Finally, remembering that our bodies are fragile gifts from God and forgiving the frailty we experience in our lives with pain and illness is a big and wonderful step toward acceptance of who we are, where we are. This step can lead to true fulfillment, true joy, if we let it.
Yes, if we keep our hearts set on forgiveness and open up and out to all that this year has to offer, we will find many bright blessings throughout.
May it be a splendid 2017!
Joy and peace,
Merry Christmas and, still, Blessed Advent!
Yes, we have passed the Advent Season, that annual time of waiting, but I still carry some of the graces from those days with me. Perhaps you do, too. A sense of comfort at the extra quiet and prayer for insight. A gratitude at the many blessings God has given us. Even, perhaps, a more pronounced feeling of tenderness for ourselves and others who suffer. Advent can wash us in God’s love and renew us in His glorious light, and our awareness of these need not vanish when December 25 dawns and it is, Hallelujah!, Christmas!
If Christmas joy is difficult to embrace because of personal pain, disappointment, loneliness or other blanket of sorrow, a return to the heart of Advent can help lift us up. There, we can have permission to pray, direction to meditate on Isaiah or one of the Gospels. Through remembering and marking Advent even after Christmas, we can address our particular stresses; Advent takes patience, and if we work a little harder on acquiring more patience, we can relax more and stress less.
In Advent, we anticipate Christmas. Now that Christmas 2015 has come and gone, we can anticipate the next anew, and even plan for it tangibly. Mark the calendar for times of prayer or schedule in extra spiritually-centered activities.
Through Advent, we can better understand our reaction and relationship to the larger “wait,” the time when we will be singing with the angels in our forever heavenly home. We can rejoice that our lives will then not repeat a sometimes-difficult cycle of waiting and arrival and more waiting, but rather will be fulfilled, along with all people of faith.
I pray that your Christmas was splendid and filled with light and song. But if it wasn’t what you expected or had hoped for, there’s nothing wrong with turning back the clock a bit. Revisit Advent and the prayers, bible passages and process that it offers. For that is a blessed gift, too!
Joy and peace,
Between now and the New Year can be an extremely hectic roller coaster for people living with chronic illness. Oh, yes, we try to participate in festivities and to observe Advent with extra prayer and piety. But we also often have multiple doctor appointments and other health issues to tend to. These days, chronic illness can be very time-consuming and exhausting!
Yet, in the midst of our busy-ness, it’s still important to tend to our hearts, the core of holiday time that is deep within. This means that, even if we are tired or very symptomatic, we should keep watching.
Watching for the little glimpses of God’s love that surround us in nature, in one another, and in the extra decorations and adornments of the Season.
Watching for the ways that we can reach out, however gently, to bring a bit of cheer to someone who seems down or to someone who seems left out.
Watching for opportunities to lift up gratitude and happiness to Our Lord (yes, Jesus really wants us to find the joy in our suffering and the uplift in our down-cast expressions!).
Watching for the movement of time, from waiting to experiencing, from Advent to Christmas.
We can watch from our comfy chairs or the infusion station. We can watch from inside our homes or outside, when we’re moving about the world. We can watch when we’re speaking with a loved one or a stranger.
We can watch at any time, anyplace. And we can reap the blessings that come from being vigilant. We can find even more grace, which stems from our Lord. We can find greater hope. More joy.
We can find the essence of our daily walk and our sparkling faith.
So, keep watching! There’s more to see – and much more joy to find!
Just a note to you from me, full of gratitude! May you and your families and communities be graced with every good gift that comes from our bountiful and merciful Father.
And may this Advent Season be a time of inner growth and external light – a beautiful and powerful combination to nurture even greater faith for the weeks ahead!