The holidays are behind us once again. That means fewer plates that I have to keep spinning around on poles. A crazy image, to be sure, and one that may already be anachronistic to younger people! Nevertheless, it’s appropriate for me.
Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s bring a certain amount of pleasure; they also add a lot to my workload. The gifts for our young adult daughter, the lights and decorations that I love, and the food that forms the centerpiece of our celebrations are piled on top of everything I already do. Consequently, by this time in January, I’m delighted to return to the regular workload, both at church and home. So it is that I am happy to finally sit down and resume sharing my life through this blog.
Many years ago, I gave a sermon on the parables of Jesus in which the idea of something lost was used. I spoke about a pattern within those stories of something lost, found, and then a party. I titled the sermon “Lost, Found, Party!” Just when I think that I’m making little to no progress on my spiritual journey, something happens to let me see that I have indeed moved the mark forward a bit.
It happened on Christmas day. My nieces came from New Orleans, and we had had a lovely time visiting, eating, chatting, and napping. Having taken advantage of the pre-cooked holiday meal available at Publix, I spent my time in the kitchen preparing the traditional dishes I most enjoy. I made sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, and cauliflower au gratin. I was busy but happy as I worked in the kitchen, enjoying the conversations near me around the kitchen table. Then, it all went south.
While washing my hands for the hundredth time, I felt the dishtowel catch on the prongs of a ring. Looking down, what I saw was three prongs and an empty setting. I was horrified! The sapphire at the center of the ring was GONE! At that moment, not only was the gem lost, but so was I. The ring itself was new, but the sapphire and diamonds were not. I had had those gems for half of my adult life and imbued them with meaning far beyond their value. Gazing at the empty spot where the sapphire should have been, I felt as if I had lost a part of myself.
I turned toward the kitchen table, looked at my nieces, and said, “I lost the sapphire from my ring!” They immediately set out to help me find it. Dropping to their knees, they activated their phone flashlights and looked under the table. I went to get the broom and dustpan. Together, we looked everywhere in the kitchen. Finding nothing but the usual dirt, one of my nieces suggested tentatively that maybe the gem had fallen into one of the dishes I’d been preparing. That created visions of looking for the sapphire that I didn’t want to imagine!
In fact, I knew that wasn’t the case because I had admired the rings on my fingers just thirty minutes earlier when I’d been outside, and they’d caught the sunlight. Still, we had looked all over the kitchen and hadn’t found the sapphire. Devastated, I went online to see how much it would cost to replace the sapphire. The prices I found further devastated me! I certainly wasn’t going to spend thousands of dollars on a mere sentiment! I had to face the fact that the sapphire was gone for good.
But first, I had to mourn. Since most of the dinner was warming in the oven, and I knew I couldn’t eat without having a good cry, I went to the bedroom to do just that. I hate powerfully sad emotions and try to avoid them at all costs. Faced with the unavoidable, I always try to think my way out of these feelings. Unfortunately, my thought processes at times like these usually follow a predictable and unproductive pattern of self-castigation. I usually end up swallowing my tail in a repetitive cycle of self-hate. Round and round I go until I’m exhausted OR until enlightenment occurs. Don’t laugh! Enlightenment happens more often than not. I think it’s because, unable to think my way out of my feelings, I finally surrender. I let go of the merely human “me” (my “mini-me”) and allow the Divine within to emerge. This is precisely what happened that Christmas evening.
From someplace deep within me, I heard a voice say, “Seriously? Are you so identified with a gemstone that you can’t get over its loss? Is that really all you think you are? A one-carat, pear-shaped sapphire?” Shocked by the realization that I was allowing my sense of Who I AM to be utterly dependent on so small a thing, I immediately awakened to the Truth.
I AM an expression of the Highest, the Divine, a child of God, an eternal being whose nature is of Spirit and not of this earth or the things I continually think are so important. My True Nature could never be lost, only hidden behind clouds of confusion, which I could instantly clear by remembering Who I Really AM! Wow! Such enlightenment had never come so easily and quickly! I was free of the sadness, free of the self-reproach, free of the need to find the sapphire. In fact, I could replace the sapphire with an entirely different gem and have a whole new ring!
With such happy thoughts in my otherwise-addle-pated brain, I floated downstairs. I shared this turnabout with my husband, who secretly must think that I have a stash of happy chemicals upstairs. I then put ten or twelve dishes of hot, delicious holiday food on the table and invited everyone to the celebration. For that’s what it had become – a celebration of enlightenment! Of course, my family didn’t know what had transpired upstairs. They just saw that I was what passes for “normal” for me!
Several days later, I noticed dust and cat hair near my mother’s chair under the table. It looked like that part of the floor hadn’t seen a broom in quite a while. At that moment, I distinctly recalled not sweeping there on Christmas Day when I was looking for the sapphire. Her feet were in the way, and I really didn’t think the gem had fallen out near the table. Curious, I grabbed my phone, activated the flashlight, and got down on my hands and knees. Shining the light into a small bundle of cat hair and crumbs, I saw a bright reflection. The sapphire lay there winking at me! I scooped it up and laughed! First, it was lost, then I celebrated a moment of enlightenment. Finally, the sapphire was found.
Lost, Party, Found!
The moral of the story is: WHO WE ARE IS NEVER LOST. However, it is regularly misplaced. Life is a classroom, and we are here to learn. The sooner we surrender our mini-me to the Divine within, the faster we know the Truth of Who We Are. This year, let’s resolve to celebrate each lesson and all the times we come back to ourselves and find Who We Really Are!!
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