Every month, I take part in a global blogging movement: One Thousand Voices For Compassion. For almost a year now, we’ve been writing a post every month about some aspect of compassion which we’ve come together and shared. I know that for me, focusing on compassion every month and sharing these values with like-minded crusaders has truly expanded my horizons and my world. It’s been such an inspiration!
Here’s a link to the link-up: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=592285
So, here I am back again thinking about compassion. I haven’t watched the news for a few weeks so events beyond my own microcosm are something of a mystery but I know our world is in crisis on many, many fronts. However, I also know that there is much beauty and love in our world as well. As an optimist, I have to believe that ultimately goodness will triumph evil. That one person, even one little person like myself, can actually be a part of what makes a difference…especially when we come together… just like grains of sand joining to make a rock.
I have already contributed a post about visiting Sydney’s Lindt Cafe 12 months after the terrorist siege which shut down the Sydney CBD and resulted in three deaths. This was a very emotional moment for me, especially as I knew one of the hostages: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/sydneys-lindt-cafe-12-months-on/
However, while it is important to be mindful of events making headlines around the world, so much flies under the radar and I feel that by addressing some of the smaller stuff, that we could indeed make inroads on some of the bigger issues.
After all my pre-Christmas trials and tribulations, I have been reminded yet again about the dangers of perfection. Moreover, in the context of Christmas, how expectations of perfection can all too easily destroy the spiritual, social and fun aspects of Christmas turning it into a horrific ordeal where everything we truly hold dear could well go up in smoke. By the way, I’m not talking about your precious turkey or Christmas pud here but relationships. Love exploding into smithereens under the pressure as nothing or no one could ever possibly measure up to those unrealistic standards of perfection. After all, who really lives on the set of Vogue Living…especially if they have kids, pets and experience any sort of joie de vivre?
Even though I’m pretty laissez-faire about the house, even I’ve found myself getting caught up in this perfectionist trap this Christmas.
Let’s start off with the tree.
Even though our tree might look pretty slap-dash with it’s cluttered eclectic menagerie of mismatched ornaments and the poor angel precariously perched at the top looking like she about to jump off, a lot of thought went into that tree. The tree is fresh and was specially ordered in, as we didn’t want a big tree. We have way too many ornaments and so I went through the boxes with my daughter only picking out the best, the favourites and made a mental note to chuck out the broken ones. Cut back.
I know it’s not the done thing to hang your broken ornaments on your tree, especially pride of place. However, what are we supposed to do with broken people? Do we throw them out as well? I don’t think so, especially when you think this through a little further and realise we’re all imperfect or broken in some way. This, of course means, that we’re either all in. Or, we’re all out!
Again, I was struck by the perils of perfection while baking shortbread Christmas Trees. While turning shortbread into shapes seemed like a good idea, it certainly wasn’t child’s play. Trying to extract the shortbread mixture from the cookie cutter involved surgical precision, especially when it came to removing the trunk intact. It even required a scalpel AKA butter knife. By the time I’d finished, no two trees were exactly the same. Yes, you could tell they’d been cut by the same cutter but there was also some other force at work. It’s called being handmade. Not something churned out by a factory where each and every detail is identical and any variation is either chucked out or sold off cheap as “Factory Seconds”!
That is also what it means to be human. Excluding identical twins, no two humans are exactly alike. There are themes and variations and just like my shortbread biscuits. We need to embrace everyone without expecting to see ourselves reflected in every mirror. Well, may be not embrace but at least accept. After all, I’m not suggesting that you need to go hugging complete strangers to be compassionate.
Humanity needs diversity, a kaleidoscope….certainly not identical, factory-made clones.
However, accepting diversity doesn’t usually come easily. It requires compassion, empathy and, above all else, love. Not just towards others but also ourselves. If we can’t accept imperfection in ourselves how can we possibly hope to accept it in others? That said, for some of us we’re much more critical of ourselves than others. Then, our journey is more about learning to show compassion, love and acceptance to ourselves at least to the same degree that we shower it on others.
This all leads me to my greatest Achilles Heel…having the house neat and tidy for Christmas. Quite frankly, this just isn’t going to happen. All house is bursting at the seams. We’ve had to move and rearrange things to fit in the tree and a piano load of decorations. Moreover, we’ve had so much on, that we’ve only had time to dump and run, which does nothing for maintaining the house. Yet, we’ve performed in end of year concerts. I’ve been doing my blog. Made a Christmas cake, shortbread and I posted 35 Christmas cards today. Is a spotless house really going to bring any joy to anyone? I don’t know but fortunately, we’ll be having Christmas lunch at my aunt’s place. This, of course means, that the house can wait! As long as Santa can squeeze in, we’ll be happy!
Our home might be somewhat overstocked but at least it has a heart and there are far greater crimes about humanity than a bit of dog hair on the carpet!
After all, Baby Jesus was born in a very humble manger in a stable surrounded by barnyard animals and his first visitors were lowly shepherds. That is what we are really honouring at Christmas which is so, so far removed from our contemporary notions of the “perfect Christmas”.
Yet, I am who I am and I still feel like all my efforts have fallen painfully short. That nothing’s quite right. I don’t even know if I’ll manage to convey what I know matters most…love. Trying to show others you love them isn’t a perfect art. We all know how those efforts can backfire. I can only hope that the spirit of Christmas somehow fills in all the cracks, converting my best intentions into something which touches their hearts like a magic wand.
After all, isn’t that’s what’s truly important? To know you are loved and for others to know you love them?!!
So, embracing the spirit of compassion this Christmas may we embrace each other and ourselves with love and acceptance just as we are…whatever that means!
If you would like to read more about compassion, here’s a link through to the link-up:
Our family wishes you and yours an Australian “Merry Christmas”. This is a greeting which covers most creeds and cultures here and largely refers to the man in the big red suit, some Christmas “cheer” and time off work, which could well be spent at the beach. This is how so many Australians unfortunately find themselves wearing patchy red birthday suits. More compassion required!
Love and Best Wishes,
Rowena, Geoff, Mister, Miss, Bilbo and Lady
PS: “Happy Holidays” is not a greeting used in Australia and so despite wanting to be culturally sensitive and all-embracing, I feel that I need to be true to where I’m from and what these words mean where I am. Merry Christmas is just like saying “G’day mate” and has lost much of its Christian heritage. I’m not too sure what I think of that either.