As I look at the next three weeks I've realized there are 21 events in as many days, a handful social, most work-related, all wonderful opportunities to be with friends and colleagues. The season has begun. It used to launch with the arrival of Margaret Crow's Crane Christmas Card very properly hand-addressed on the day after Thanksgiving. Now it is the memory of how thoughtful she was to be the first to exclaim her hope that we would all have a very Merry Christmas.
Our plans are a weaving of new and old traditions, familiar faces in all the right places. So, as we continue this journey together of finding the space for quiet anticipation in these days of jolly cheer, know that the real work is to find the litte moments that we and our children will remember the most. I'll do my best to make it to these many and wonderous occasions, but I am going to do so with a new awareness for how my being there is really being there: awake and alive, listening.
First, I am not going to worry this season of waiting and patience about being late. We will get there when we get there. Friends understand, and this season of love is not a time to be hard on ourselves. I will work on compassion for the effort to arrive when I can and leave when I need to. The compassionate host understands. Just being is enough. As simple as the in breath and the out breath: all we have to do amid this list and that one is just breathe and just be. All is well. And all is well.
I am going to really listen and be present for the people I am with. This moment, not the gifts or the frolic, this moment with this amazing person is the one that matters. As with works of art in a large gallery, the moments of really studying just two or three on a tour are the richer, more rewarding experiences. Instead of the slow art tour this Christmas season, I'm taking the slow-friend tour: I'm setting aside small talk for bigger, more meaningful connections. I want to be there, in new more mindful ways as my gift to the people I will meet, and a gift to myself.
And as I cross this landscape of really being with the people I am with, I hope to also give myself the gift of One New Friend. I was once endearingly called a Collector of Friends, and I hope to create a new friendship this December: someone I will know and learn from and with for the rest of my life. I can secretly call them my Advent Friend.
So, in this quest to be mindful and quiet, I recognize that we live in this world of engagements. The real world is busy, but as with mindfulness, we have to learn to quiet the mind in a very busy environment. Simple techniques like mini-meditations at the valet stand, on elevators, in lines and just in a corner for a short moment will remind me of this work toward a Mindful Advent: one little breath at a time. Join me as we explore the beauty in quiet: the beautiful interactions between loved ones and colleagues, the exquisite glow of a Christmas Tree, the love and compassionate hospitality put into creating these parties and the gift of more time to be with each other. Join me in that celebration.