I got up this morning and I was thinking about this third day of Christmastide. For Christians, it is the Feast Day of St. John the Evangelist. One of the familiar symbols for St. John is a chalice, sometimes with a snake emerging from it as by legend he was challenged to drink a cup of poison to show his faith. He is often represented as an eagle, his truth soaring and illuminating and ever ascending. In the Celtic tradition, (of which my spiritual path of Anglicanism has strong markings), St. John was favored over St. Peter and St. Paul. St. John, the Beloved Disciple, is said to have leaned against Jesus during the Last Supper and to have heard the heartbeat of Jesus, which in the Celtic tradition became a symbol for this idea of listening within ourselves for God and for listening to all of creation. Find the heartbeat.
In parenting, we often have to hold a fine line between the truth and the values we hold and listening, really listening, to the child and the family members before us and keeping ourselves centered. Good truth requires not an idealisitic, I-will-get-my-way-for-my-truth-come-hell-or-high-water, but instead a careful consideration of truth, guiding, listening, and not losing our own center. We have to know our own truth and not be tossed about.
Six year olds will fight you and tell you that you are not the boss of them.
Nine year olds are certain there is more out there and possibly you are not all that there is.
Twelve year olds change their minds incredibly fast as to how they want to dip their toe into outside activities – how many, how much, when.
Fifteen year olds are certain you don’t know much about the pressures they are facing and that you cannot listen and really hear them.
What is your truth in the face of that? And how will you listen? It is sometimes difficult to fully and wholly listen. We often want to form our own response before the other person has really finished speaking. I think in order to be effective illuminators of truth, we have to ask ourselves through inner work what is that truth, why is this our truth and is it rightfully so, and how do we stand for this truth in a way that is harmonious with the unity of the family or others? What is our responsibility toward ourselves and others, and what boundaries do we need to be healthy in that endeavor?
I encourage you to set up an art station for a few hours this week – paints, colored pencils, pens – and see out of this free artistic spirit what prayers and truths arise for the coming year. These are precious days in winding down this year.
Blessings during these Holy Nights and days of Christmastide,