As we enter the traditional season for giving, I am reminded that gifts are always a part of the journey, on a pilgrimage and in daily life. All you have to do is become aware the abundance of life and open your heart to receiving these gifts so freely given. I offer these three gifts for this holiday season. Gifts to give yourself and then in turn give to others.
Joy: The poet Leon Bloy says, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God”. Finding joy, living joy, sustained joy are the moments the pilgrim has put down their burdens, worries, sorrow and let the light of the Divine show through to your life. This is a moment of transformation where just being alive and open hearted is all there needs to be. On the Camino I had the experience of sustained joy where just walking and being in nature made every breath a thank-you.
Silence: In our noisy world we don’t find much silence and if you do happen to encounter it most people find it uncomfortable and immediately fill the void with more talking or scrolling. Silence is where you take time from our frenetic world. You can’t hear the voice of your heart and the Divine if you are talking or distracted. Practice sacred silence as you move into sacred space. Take time to sit in silent wonder and just be with the experience. You need time to be without distraction to connect your being to your special place on earth. Before and after visiting a special place give yourself the gift of coming into silence so you can prepare, receive and then integrate this experience.
Music: Music is part of spiritual practice in all traditions, hymns, chants, toning and other types of music that enhances your personal experience. As always these should not affect the experience of others near you or the nature of the site. Sing a song in your mind, quietly chanting, listening to a song on an iPod can greatly enhance your experience. I like to link a specific song with a specific place or experience. Sometimes I have chosen that song ahead of time, sometimes I let the shuffle setting choose the song, sometimes I like to have a song spontaneously come into my mind. When a song is sung or listened to at a site the song is then imprinted on your energy at that site. In the future when you hear that song then you can be instantly transported back to that place and time. It is a way of being part of that place forever. In the cathedral in Burgos, Spain during a Mass in English the congregation sang a hymn I learned as a child. I sang the words that I knew but hadn’t thought of for decades. Now my voice is forever in the stones of that chapel.