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Just a thought ~ What if you could see every event, every encounter as an opportunity to give or receive a powerful gift? 

Instead of the usual stress around questions like:  Will I be accepted?  How do I get what I want?  What’s going to happen?  Wouldn’t it be better to see it as a chance to receive some knowledge, learn more about whoever you come in contact with?   You might practice seeing the other as a human being, just like you, trying to do his or her best.

You might also stay open for ways you can give.  How can I serve this person?  What can I do to ease suffering, spread love, practice more understanding?  What is it this person really needs?

There is a Japanese anime series called “InuYasha”.  In it a sacred jewel is shattered into pieces.  Each person who gets a shard of this jewel is imbued with special powers. What if you greeted every person as if they had a shard of that sacred jewel to give you? 

There are so many ways to give and receive when you are in contact with others.  What amazingly powerful gifts can be exchanged!

It’s important during this Holidaze season to practice infinite patience with yourself.  Give yourself the gift of self care.  Just being more kind to yourself. People tend to want to make everything happen perfectly, while still doing the “usual.”  It’s just not possible.

Detach from worry about what can’t be controlled.  Or a need for things to look a certain way, or happen at a certain time.   Be willing to say it’s okay, even if it’s not all you hoped it would be.

This is a good time to give yourself the gift of just taking a breath once in a while and checking  in.  Ask yourself how you’re feeling.  What do you need?  Slow down when you can, when you don’t have to be at high speed.  Surely there are moments for that.

Think about giving a special gift to others. Listen to what you are saying. Is it what you truly want to say?  Can you be more careful with your words?

Remember that you are always doing your best.  Appreciate all the gifts you have.  Remember what the holiday is really about.

Alan Cohen reminds us, “Your gift to the world is not what you buy or do.  Your gift is your happiness.”

Elizabeth O’Connor added, “We do not experience ourselves as a gift until we are engaged in the act of creating.”

Take heed of the gifts which really matter.

“Whoever you meet has been sent by God.  How would you greet them?”  — Alan Cohen

Alan Cohen never ceases to amaze me.  This is a fabulous idea: to see everyone you meet as a gift.  Sometimes, when it’s a little more difficult to see a person that way, we say they are our “Zen Master.”  It’s such a great way to look at others.  Everyone who comes into your life has something to offer you.  To teach you, to show you, to uplift you, to get you to see things in a new way.

It’s not a selfish thing to look at it that way because you are also a gift to others.  You were sent to them by God, as well.  So, no matter what happens in your exchange, it was for the good of both of you.

So, how would we greet them if we were aware that they were in our lives for a reason?  Perhaps we would be more open to who they are and what they bring.  Maybe we’d be  a little kinder, more accepting.  Would we maybe even welcome them with open arms and a wide heart?

I think I’d like to sharpen my awareness of others – what they’re projecting, how they are appearing.  Also, what they’re saying (and what they’re not saying).  I think one could not have a better avocation than to be a people watcher.

Perhaps I will be a little more patient with the prattling of others.  I will try to remember that even if it appears to be out of my realm, in fact, there is a gift for me.  This will help me to tune in more carefully, listen more deeply.

You know, this practice is likely to make me a more loving person.  That Alan Cohen surely is a wise one!

I no longer flinch when I say Merry Christmas, because it is so much more a retail holiday than a religious holiday.  Somewhere under all the gifts and wrapping and cards and pictures and cookies and trees and lights, through the stories of Santa Claus and traveling and food, lies Jesus. 

I used to do it.  Buying gifts for a dozen or more people.  Writing up to 100 cards.  Decorating the house.  Planning, searching, buying, wrapping, shipping, mailing until I couldn’t think of anything else.

One Christmas, as I was watching someone open one of those gifts I had taken so much time, effort and cost to bring to them, I imagined this person having to tend to whatever it was I bought.  No matter what the gift, there was likely to be washing, dry cleaning, polishing, dusting, moving, storing, using, or putting away to do.

I feel blessed that everyone I love has all that they need.  Every one of them has wonderful clothes to wear, blankets to keep warm, proper cooking utensils, plenty of food, gobs of books and music and video games. They lack nothing.  If you are in need of socks, or new paintbrushes, or a teeth cleaning, chances are you’re going to get them yourself.  Most of us can satisfy our own needs. Many of us have more than we’ll ever use!

But, the children, you say.  The children must have their Christmas!  Not being a parent and living that close to it, I have to say, from my observations, that children would be just fine without 500,000 toys, without the latest whatsit.  I sometimes think Christmas does far more harm than good.

It’s not that I’m against gift-giving.  On the contrary, expressing love and gratitude for someone can often be done through a specially chosen gift. But, in the middle of all the other gifts, it loses its impact.  It should be about a moment, a feeling, rather than a season.  Because it’s the Holidays and that’s what you do.  I can show I love you in so many ways.

I know, the economy needs this buying frenzy.  I remember, when I used to participate, how it became almost like an addiction as I would wonder what I was going to purchase next.  What do I have to buy today?  I know, times are tough, but then let’s be honest and say Christmas is about boosting the economy, not celebrating the birth of a Great Man/Son of God/Savior.

Personally, I’m not much of a church-goer, holiday or otherwise.  I am aware, though, that Jesus taught a lot about Love.  I wish this Holiday season was more about celebrating all the wonderful ways that Jesus showed his love. For those around him, his community, his God, everyone on the planet.  Instead of buying gifts, maybe we could find ways to let others know how much we love them, how much they’ve touched our hearts, by doing something kind for them.  What if, instead of spending all those hours and all that money buying gifts for those that don’t need anything, we put all that energy, instead, toward those who don’t have the abundance we enjoy?

But, surely, it will take a miracle.  As God said in “Conversations with God II” where He talks about politics, education and the world at large, there are plenty of changes we could make.  But in the end, it must be a change of attitude.  From the top down.  We need a new Christmas Paradigm. 

I pray for a Christmas miracle.  If we could change what we have believed about it, return to the Christian principles, look more to the rituals like our Jewish and Muslim friends also celebrating at this time of year, we might be able to give in better ways so we can love in better ways.

All around. All the time.

Including the blisters on my feet. I can see it as a gift that they’re spread between the ball of one foot and the heel of another. What if both heels were affected? I have a balance of sorts. The gifts are everywhere if you look. In the relief of the pain. Or in the grace of a beautiful moment: when the sunshine is on the trees, sparkling through my hair, or on my skin. These moments fill my body with warmth.

That seems to me good medicine for health and well being. If you have a regular practice of feeling gifted and grateful, acknowledging the presence of a loved one, a fresh refresh of cool water, or some good laughs. Making note of the moment of achievement or conception. Reveling in the excitement pumping along the way – being in the midst of something wonderful. The satisfaction of a good meal, a job well done, a milestone reached. Dwelling in the feeling of being well-loved and appreciated by a Loving Universe, here to support you, in so many ways, has got to affect the cells in your body.

It can also makes things happen. Feel what you want to feel first by noticing all the good you can, then set your intention for more of the same and watch for the Gift of Synchronicity. When you get where you’re going at just the right time and there is a parking spot, the rain stops and you slide in. Feeling confident and in sync. The right people coming together for exactly what you need at the perfect time. Blessings. Comings together. When it all just falls into place. The way to make synchronicity happen, I’ve come to believe, is in the acknowledgment of it. Call it forth by expecting it and then simply notice it happening. You will start to see it happening more and more.

Seeing the gifts all around you – including the magic of synchronicity – you can watch the blessings grow!

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