Lessons from a Christmas Tree

Throughout my life journey, I have received the most profound guidance from the most unexpected places -- like my Christmas tree.  It just happened again. Here is my share:

A few years ago in December, I was close to filing for a divorce and was deeply sad. It was the middle of the night and I got up to sit alone in the quiet of the Christmas tree lights while everyone else slept. This is a ritual I have had since my childhood - a kind of meditation to connect with the peace of the season and pieces of my self. 

This time, as I went to plug in the lights, the whole tree went dark. In an instant I was consumed by anger.  I was going to have to un-decorate the whole tree, take off all the lights, buy new ones, re-string the lights, and re-decorate the tree by myself AGAIN. It was an unbearable metaphor for my life and I resented it.

I glared at that tree in rage for over a week. I cursed it. I cursed life. I cursed, period. I couldn't deal with the task of all the undoing and redoing that tree represented. Finally one day, a teenage family friend was over and occupying my son and I decided to tackle the tree. The two of them helped me take off the ornaments from the bottom.  We had gotten about a quarter of the way up the tree when the young friend said, "Hey, just take off those lights on the bottom first."

So I did. That sting of lights was out. I plugged in the lights left on the tree. They ALL lit up! I only had to replace one string of lights, only at the bottom, and only redecorate a small portion of the tree. I did NOT have to redo EVERYTHING! And I had help! And there was the message, big and loud and beautiful:

1. WHEN ONE THING IN YOUR LIFE IS A CHALLENGE IT CAN MAKE EVERYTHING LOOK DARK.  BUT IT IS ONLY THAT ONE THING. REMEMBER THAT AND THE LIGHTS IN YOUR LIFE CAN REAPPEAR! PLUG INTO THEM. 

The second part of this message got delivered at 4:37am this morning. I am going through a break-up with my boyfriend of several years -- a very up and down, passionate, powerful connection that was not serving my highest good and not serving it for a long time. I woke up at 3:52am. By 4:30am I gave up trying to go back to sleep and went to turn on my Christmas tree lights to sit quietly in my ritual-mediation. I plugged in the cord -- a small section of lights had gone out at the bottom of the tree. All the other lights were on.

This time, I was NOT angry. I just noticed it. I accepted it. I said, "Yes, there it is. The darkness I am sitting in." I took three breaths. Then three more. I did not even think about what I needed to do to fix it. I just noticed it. Then I noticed all the lights that were on. And all the lights that are on in my life: love from new and old friends; love of my yoga practice and teaching; support and kindness pouring into my life from places I never knew I could find; and a love for all the tiny details of living that have been in the shadows and were resurfacing. I sat in that ocean of love-light and breathed it in and out. In and out.

I looked again at the dark patch surrounded by a zillion Christmas lights. I thought about how this message has evolved and how I have evolved, too. The darkness was smaller. I wasn't angry about what I had to deal with. I was able to accept and breathe. The message bubbled up as this:

2. WHEN DARKNESS APPEARS BREATHE INTO IT. NOTICE IT. ACCEPT IT. MAKE SPACE FOR IT. IT KNOWS HOW TO HEAL ITSELF. YOU DON'T HAVE TO FIX ANYTHING. LOOK AT ALL THE LIGHTS THAT ARE ON. BREATHE INTO THEM.

"I need to finally write this down," I thought, and went to get my computer. I kid-you-not, when I returned, that patch of darkness on the Christmas tree had re-lit itself.  "Showoff," I smiled.

A Christmas miracle? Yes, in the way that being present with what is NOW can transform our selves and our lives by simply noticing and breathing. 

My addition to the Christmas Tree Message is this: You are the brightest light in your life. Breathe into that and notice what happens. Namaste.