by Ken Low
Photo by Denys Nevozhai
The holiday season is so meaningful because we get to spend time with people we enjoy, we get to eat good food, and we get to feast on a diet of transcendent level experiences, images, stories and emotions. These experiences can be anything, like listening to a Christmas carol, or looking out your window and seeing the crescent moon and a single star shining over your neighbour’s house.
I encourage you to approach your activities over the holidays with a sense of intention. As you spend time in the presence of people you like, bring openness and care to the time you are together. Open up to and connect with another’s ongoing existence, their process of becoming and their life journey. You might learn more about them, not just by what they say but how they themselves are choosing to approach those moments you are spending together.
As we connect with various stories that are told and retold at this time of year, take the time to pause and think about the ways in which these stories point to what it means to be alive and human, and part of a trans-generational process of becoming. Think about what the great writers and storytellers from various literary traditions are trying to convey – how are they going about connecting to a transcendent frame?
It’s our own ability to sense our own spirits and those of the people around us that we can try to cultivate at this time of year. Seeing people can bring that jolt of happiness, but it’s much more likely to be something that will linger and feed your spirit through the days and the weeks ahead if you’ve taken care to cultivate the sensitivity with which you are greeting this opportunity to connect with others.
Human Ventury Community Reflections
Today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, when the hemisphere is tilted its furthest distance away from the sun. It is the shortest day of the year when the sun’s path across the sky is at its lowest.
Our species has long recognized this as a significant moment in the movement of the seasons. As we enter a time that perhaps allows for a retreat from the busy-ness of everyday life and some space for reflection, we asked the Human Venture community how they experience the holiday season, and how they make meaning during the solstice.
“I enjoy the social activity of Christmas and seeing people, reconnecting with family and friends. As someone who lives alone, I really struggled last holiday season when we couldn’t spend time with our loved ones. I enjoy going out to the farm and seeing the land and the animals.”
“I think of it as a time of transition, of death and life. It’s a time to really be intentionally present with people.”
“It feels like a time of hope, the new light against the dark. I think about the idea of renewal and rebirth, the seed of life being planted for the turn of the season, and the hope of what could come or will come in the future. I think it’s a time when we turn to stories that help us understand the kind of internal work we need to do in ourselves to develop the capacity to extend compassion and generosity to others.”
“I struggle with the busyness and the expectation of lots of social engagements. It feels superficial. I think that many people at this time of year are searching for meaning, but are running up against the limits of their own meaning-making capacities.”
“For a number of reasons this is always a difficult time of year for me but spending time in nature is always the most healing thing and helps me connect to the transcendent frame. I think it’s important to have a heightened sense of compassion and care for others at this time of year. I find it helpful to pay attention to and find ways to support others who might be struggling as well. It’s a very reflective time of year and I find a renewed sense of energy with reading good books, self care, and spending time with family.”