In this space we publish the Minister’s Musings for the current month, which is also published in our newsletter. Please enjoy.
It began with a cup of coffee. Throughout seminary, internships, and my initial time with you all, my days were saturated with to-do lists, “urgent” demands and constant productivity. I was unhappy, stressed, and burning out. And yet, in the midst of this navigating this unsustainable lifestyle, I reflected on a Soul Matters activity with our Young Adult group: find one moment for rest in each day. So, I tried. It began, simply, with an extended time, five to ten minutes, to drink my coffee in the morning. That was all. These minutes cleared my mind and calmed me. This intentional pause became a catalyst for the self-care practices I commit myself to each day – prayer and meditation. These practices have become life-giving and transformative.
We are in this midst of the holiday season, a season promoted as one of jubilation, companionship, and delight. Joyful families gathered around a feast flicker on our TV screen, and commercials for toys depict the pressures of our consumer culture. It is as if we are obligated to be happy, and yet many of us are not. I think of my own beloveds, the members of our sacred community, and those I have cared for as a chaplain. Some of us are in the midst of mourning, some are navigating complex family dynamics, some are in the throes of addiction or battle depression or other mental health challenges, some are struggling financially. Some of us are simply stressed. For a wealth of reasons, many people are struggling through this holiday season. Any of these emotions are ok. You are just right. You are good, you are whole, you are loved.
I encourage those moments of care, even if all we feel we can do in this minute is pause while we drink our morning coffee. We each need practices of self-care, not only during the holiday season, but in each of our days. What is self-care? It is intentional practices that tend to the mind, body, and spirit. It keeps us grounded, calm, connected to our sacred and to that still, small voice within. It brings peace to the day-to-day and gives us a foundation when things are hard. What can we do in the midst of pumpkin spice lattes, twinkling holiday lights, familial expectations and material demands? If nature gives us peace, we can walk through those dormant trees. If moments of calm feed our souls, we can engage in practices of meditation. If a connection to the holy is what we need, we can center in prayer. If we heal through art, we can journal, paint, or reflect on poetry. Each soul – each being – is unique.
As we are immersed in this holiday season, let us reflect on those simple things we can do to care for ourselves this time of year. We can be extra generous and loving towards our tender selves. We can know that good enough is good enough – we can know our limits. We can lessen the demands on ourselves and, for example, cook less food. We can have an exit strategy if things get hard. We can avoid those triggers that cause us undue harm or pain. We can keep close to those who bring us joy, calm, and peace.
I invite you to pause and reflect upon what you can do to care for yourself. What is your self-care practice? If this hardship resonates with you, I invite you to join our Blue Holidays gathering, where you will be held in the embrace of kindred souls. You are a beautiful spirit, and deserve rest and peace during a time that is so inherently demanding. You are loved.