For as long as I can remember, at our family Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, my dad has delivered a “homily” after the main meal. Usually he would bring an article or something he’d recently been mulling over, and add his thoughts and feelings about it. Usually it expressed some particular meaning, viewpoint, or idea that my dad shared or disagreed with and he’d make his point and leave it to us to ponder. As an adult, especially in the past few years, I have really appreciated this tradition and the time and energy that it takes for him to prepare said homily at these events. –Thanks Dad xo.
A couple years ago, he came up with a new idea. He said he realized that there were plenty in our crowd ( large family) who had their own “wisdom” to share and that he was going to, by way of a lottery system – aka, names/hat, choose a different family member, each holiday, to deliver the homily. This year, surprisingly, I volunteered…It was surprising because ever since I heard about this idea I had a sense of dread about the day my turn would come… until recently.
And I am going to share what I said to my family on Christmas Eve,
A couple weeks before Christmas, I had lunch with my dad, and we had a conversation which led to me to contemplate ,why the idea of offering the homily, filled me with dread.
Was it actually dread? And if not what was it…
Fear of not “performing” well ?
Fear of what I shared, not being interesting to others?
Fear of not “doing it as well as others who have gone before, or who would come after…
As I considered it more, I realized that while some of those things did contribute to my emotional cocktail about it, the most compelling reason I didn’t want to be called on to do this, was because I just couldn’t imagine having anything to say…
It’s not that I lack passion, everyone in my family has seen me express myself passionately about a variety of things over the years…and it isn’t that I don’t care,- and care deeply about many things…but honestly, the older I get, the less I feel “sure” about, — and the less I feel like “espousing” my wisdom”.
Some may consider that a scary thought, or that it means I have lost my way or have fallen into a well of insecurity…no, quite the contrary actually. For me, it feels liberating.
I feel a freedom in realizing that some of the strongest beliefs I have held for the better part of my adult life, have, overtime without my even realizing it, just dissolved or become personally irrelevant. There are many ideas, concepts and beliefs that used to consume me, that, now, I just don’t spend much energy considering anymore.
Not because I don’t think that at least some of them have value in and of themselves, – I realize that many lives are deeply enriched by their spiritual beliefs and social/political viewpoints… but somewhere along the way, I came to understand, that my relationship to many of these things had more to do with me trying to prove my own value, than their value. Or… something like that…
As these transformations have occurred, they have brought with them a greater acceptance of things as they are – whatever that looks/feels like — a deep stillness, a quiet joy, that has begun to purr along like a serene, silent, soundtrack that weaves it’s way in and around and through my life. I’d bet this partly has to do with all the beautiful practices (primarily years of therapy, yoga, meditation etc ) that have been a part of my life for so many years now…but it also has partly to do with aging.
Aging certainly has it’s bummer aspects, to which I am not immune, but I am, at the moment, appreciating one of it’s gifts…the gift of greater perspective. Not that all people avail themselves of this particular gift, even though, if we are lucky, we all age. But simply living longer means you have seen more and experienced more than you had when you were younger, and that information can, if you let it, inform our lives, who we are, or are becoming – our very fabric, changes, grows and evolves.
So I am not saying that with aging, one can expect themselves to become better than, or know more than those who haven’t lived as long as the aged. My experience tells me that some people are just old souls and they are wise, beyond their years…no matter their age. But what I am really saying is that as we age, we seem to have the opportunity to grow, change and evolve, relative to where we started out. The aging process for me, seems to be one of moving away from an orientation of who I am in relationship to others, to who I am in relationship to myself…who I am deep down, not who my ego says I should be according to, say, FaceBook or magazine covers in the supermarket check out or…(insert any cultural yardstick here). So… I guess my homily is really a call for me to be ME and to figure out what that means as the days pass, by living and loving, sharing and caring from the most authentic me that I can…
And, it’s an invitation for you to join me, if inspired — we’ll support each other.
LOVE and Happy New Year,