Not exactly sure why, but I’ve been sort of sad, or at least down the past few days.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t exercised enough the past week and it’s affecting my brain chemistry. Maybe it’s hormones. But there’s something else too.
I’m highly sensitive right now to other people’s pain.
The homeless woman at the traffic light. A young friend overwhelmed with caring for a parent. A social media friend’s depression. My childhood girlfriend’s unimaginable suffering in the run-up to Christmas after losing her child earlier this year. My overflowing grocery cart makes me feel the wealth disparity in the world even more.
Can gratitude be so deep and profound that it tips you into melancholy?
My life could have gone in any number of other directions. I could have been the homeless woman. I could have been a war victim. I could have watched a child die. Of course, all of these could still happen at any moment.
Sorry to be such a downer on Christmas Eve, but I don’t think Jesus would have a problem with my introspection. He was all about putting yourself in other people’s shoes. And even though I don’t label myself with any particular organized religion affiliation, I do believe Jesus was one of our great teachers who deserves to be celebrated and emulated.
For those of us who sometimes feel other peoples’ pain quite acutely, Christmas can be challenging.
We are told that this is the time of year to be HAPPY. But that word has a bit of a shallow feel for me. I think it was Eckhart Tolle who said that “happy is a high that is invariably followed by a low.” I prefer the words content, grateful, joyful, peaceful, and perhaps most important of all, purposeful.
So this morning, before I start ticking off my Christmas Eve to-do list items (wrap final gifts, finish setting the table with the fancy stuff, prepare dinner for 16—hence the aforementioned overflowing grocery shopping cart), I will follow my own advice to take action where I can and let go of the rest.
The Compassion Collective
My action today will be donating to The Compassion Collective, an initiative to support relief efforts for what’s being called the worst humanitarian emergency since World War II. Founded by Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, Cheryl Strayed, Rob Bell, and Glennon Doyle Melton, every penny of The Compassion Collective‘s proceeds are donated to vetted non-governmental organizations helping refugee families arriving on the shores of Europe with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
The tribe of inspiring, powerhouse writers who established The Compassion Collective harnessed the positive energy of social media. With a maximum donation of $25 dollars, they managed to raise over a million dollars in 31 hours with 40,000 givers. But that’s just the beginning. Though I wasn’t part of the first million in contributions (I think I was at the grocery store for those 31 hours), I will be part of the sustaining support, which I find almost more gratifying.
And now that I’ve taken a little bit of action acknowledging that there but for the grace of God go I, I will turn up the Christmas carols, hug my kids and husband, and thank my lucky stars that this Christmas we are all healthy, safe, secure, and together.
Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it, and happy holidays all around!
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