Nelson Mandela felt it was so important to shine our own inner light, that he quoted Marianne Williamson, in his historic inaugural speech as President of South Africa: “We are all meant to shine, as children do.” Nelson Mandela himself shines brightly, he has represented hope and goodness when it has seemed impossible.
Although he spent almost his whole life in prison, not able to be with his children as they grew up, not able to bury his mother or his child when they died, and witnessing horrendous abuses to many of his fellow people, he not only found it in his heart to forgive and be free of hatred and bitterness, but to also open his heart to all white and black people for a free South Africa. He dedicated himself to finding the courage and the inner discipline to reach this incredible state of being.
This is mirrored in other great leaders. I once saw a quote from the Dalai Lama when he was asked if he hated the Chinese government. He said he had lost so much – his home and many of his people to Chinese government, but he wouldn’t also lose his joy or his peace of mind to them. He continues to shine his light and bring compassion and love to the world, despite or maybe partly because of his personal tragedies.
For many of us, our journey’s are not so difficult. Yet I can find myself righteously holding onto some bitterness or disappointment and know that I have inner work to do in order to find the kind of inner peace and the joy that these masters in our midst demonstrate to us every day.
Winter is a time where we are home at night more often so is a time that naturally allows for more reflection. Instead of reaching for a book or some other diversion, can I remember to take the time to look deeper and reflect? I am one who likes to learn in easier ways, so I always ask to learn my lessons through subtle things, so this means I need to do my part by being awake.
Confusius says we may learn wisdom by three methods: first by reflection which is noblest; second by imitation which is easiest; and third by experience which is bitterest. I have found one of the greatest gifts of friendship is the witnessing of others lives as I can also learn from them (Confusius refers to imitation) as well as my own reflections. But it takes inner discipline to stop and go deeper. It is easier to stay busy.
It is the time of the year where leaves fall and some parts of nature even die. What parts of us need to fall or even die so we have the space for the rebirth of the new year? For the birth of Christ does not have to symbolize religion, but it can be a time for our soul – it can simply symbolize our own soul’s rebirth, where we can let go of the blocks that have limited our freedom and open to the beautiful lights each of us are.
Although it is the darkest days of the year, Christmas time has always been a season of light in northern cultures. It is the time for us to connect with the light within. Marianne Williamson’s main teachings are from a ‘Course in Miracles’ in which it says ‘The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself, but shining in the Heaven within.”
How do you best shine your light? Some people are great at being spontaneous and are called to an inner disciple that helps them take good care of themselves. I am more of the type that likes some structure though with lots of freedom within that structure to do it my own way.
Each year, our family has a process we created called the 12 Angels of Christmas where we have 12 wooden angels, each with a different attribute which supports our inner joy/inner freedom and helps remind us of all the good in ourselves and in others.
These are attributes like Love, Strength, Wisdom – all of which in our busy lives, sometimes we forget to study and play with. We use this time to plan Christmas related activities and quiet time around these soul enhancing concepts, which help us remember who we really are and prepare us for a truly New Year. One year I asked my daughter if she liked doing the 12 Angels more or Santa Claus, and she said, she just loved them both (and she really loves Santa Claus) so I realized this time isn’t just fun and life affirming for me, this soul work calls her too.
So how do you want to shine your light this Christmas? What would support you and your family in being more joyous and help prepare your soul for this New Year?