This is my first Christmas at home alone in Devon, and so far (it’s Christmas Eve), I’m loving it. After torrential rain (again) this morning, the skies cleared to blue and Selkie and I went out for a second walk, to make the most of the sun’s warmth.
As Christmas has approached this year I’ve had to draw back from many of the usual activities. At the same time I’ve had a growing awareness during this period of Lyme disease affliction that perhaps it is something of a gift to me (I may regret these words!). When I told a friend a few years ago I wanted to be more contemplative, he said “I always think of you as a “do-er””. And now I can’t “do” what I’d normally do or what I’d like to do. The unexpected gift is that I’m learning something about being on my own and inactive that is helping to bring me closer to how I actually want to live.
I’m being forced to be more attentive to decisions about what I want to do. I have simply had to pay more attention to the prompts, and impulses that lead to action – to just “nip” to the shops, getting carried away online longer than planned, picking up the phone impulsively. So many unconscious choices!
I’m becoming aware, particularly now at Christmas time, when life usually gets so much busier and more social, what actually motivates me. For example I have a strong “Will there be enough?” driver. So watching as I spent far too much time, energy and money at Morrisons the other day, only to end up flat on my back afterwards was salutary.
The image that comes to mind is feeling like I’m on the underside of a frozen river or sea: all the busyness and activity of life is skating around above ground, and I’m swimming around under water, watching and observing but not participating. Like a seal I guess, occasionally coming up for air, but for the most part enjoying the solitude of the deeper waters.
For once, I can pay more attention to the spiritual significance of this time in the Christian calendar. Stripping away the popular notion that it’s about peace and goodwill, although they are usefully moral adages to aspire to as we drive faster, try to fit more in to each day, and spend time with people we don’t often see, I’m holding on to this quote from Meister Eckhart
“God’s ultimate purpose is birth. He is not content until he brings his son to birth in us.”