Last Saturday afternoon I needed to run a minor errand at a nearby shopping center. My old belt was falling apart and I needed to pick up a new one. What in the world was I thinking? As we got closer, traffic slowed to a hobble. The parking lot was packed. Once in the store (one of the big chain stores), traffic was little better. I had fallen cluelessly into the frenzy of holiday shopping.
However, by this time I had committed enough time and resources that I was darned well going to see the project through. I found the belt rack. The belts, of course, were almost completely randomly distributed. What order there may have been at one time had fallen victim to the second law of thermodynamics (order decreasing over time in any closed system). I stuck with it. I am now the proud owner of an inexpensive reversible belt. I will always prize this belt the way a hunter prizes a great trophy. (Maybe I should have it mounted when it wears out.)
I know that some people love shopping and love crowds. I have to wonder, though, what the cumulative effect has to be of the stress of the holiday season. I wonder about the debt so many will incur during this season, especially during this time of deep economic recession. I think of the poor kids I saw being dragged along. It was a nice day outside. They could have been playing.
I have a practice, perhaps it even qualifies as a spiritual practice, that helps put everything in perspective. On my computer I have made the “Astronomy Picture of the Day” my home page. It sounds silly, I know. This is a website that features stunning photographs, many from the Hubble telescope and other major telescopes.
The photo changes every day. They are usually beautiful and often breathtaking. For me, they put my daily worries into a cosmic perspective. Check out the archive. I am especially fond of the ultra deep field image of galaxies that show us the early universe. Also, as the pace and the stress heightens in the weeks ahead, you may also want to take advantage of the Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar.
What is your practice that centers you and helps you put things into perspective? Prayer? A quiet cup of tea? Meditation? Writing in a journal? Walking in a special place? Whatever it is, I urge us all to do what we need to do to bring us tranquility.
Deep peace to you.