Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas... Time to come home twice

In a retreat program a short while ago I showed a film clip of a presentation by the Vietnamese monk Thich Naht Hanh. With the Christmas season at the door, this morning, it popped into my head again.

Here in the area of Chiang Mai, we see big differences to the same period last year. Here too Christmas is, of which absolutely the majority of people doesn’t even know what the actual meaning is, almost exclusively about commerce. Even here, at temperatures of about 25 ° C during the day, the plastic Christmas trees rise like mushrooms from the ground. They are tempting you buy more, it brings extra stress because of your desire to make everything nice and comfy (the word I use in Dutch is 'gezellig' which is a typical Dutch word and not really good to translate). However, the Thai kids go to school that day and also companies and government are having a normal working day. So although they attempt to get that never unmatchable ambiance here too it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all.

And when I talk about an unequaled ambience, I think back to the times with my parents. The preparations that took place in our family in the weeks and days before Christmas. We were living literally up to it. Even our cat looked forward to it. Every year when my mother was building a great Christmas stable with manger, his nose was in the air with the first smell of the Christmas branches that would make the 'barn' in which the holy family would stay. Now for him began the count down to the moment when we would go to the midnight mass on December 24 and he would peacefully himself sprawled himself all down in the middle of the barn between Joseph, Mary, the ox and the donkey and take place of the baby Jesus.

It was not only ambiance but it was also desire peace and sincerity coming home twice.

The presentation of Thich Naht Hanh raises the question in me if we ever dare to come home at all. If I deliberately say 'coming home twice' I mean not only coming home and connect as a family but certainly also coming home to yourself.

Thich Nhat Hanh indicates that if we have "free" time, and many do have with Christmas, we do not know what to do with it. We take a book, our i-phone or go 'do' something else. There are many ways, without actually even noticing escape from ourselves. To come home to ourselves. He says that in many cases, a battle is fought within ourselves. Having a conflict of unhappiness, dissatisfaction with situations, don’t dare to confront ourselves. Not daring to come home to ourselves. And if you are fighting within yourself then it's super easy to go into a battle with the world around you. That is precisely what came into my mind.

Christmas, even though you may not know the original meaning (unfortunately I think) no longer, is a time of even dare to pause. Willing and able to be silent. Just as the encounter with yourself. And if that feels uncomfortable or uneasy, then try and look into a burning candle for a while and ask yourself what the candle means to you. Bring peace, warmth, affection, visibility of colour, energy? Maybe we can all be a little more of a light, not only for ourselves but also a light for others.

Enjoy a nice and cozy Christmas in which it is good to come home to.

Frans Captijn
Host / Catalyst / Talenteer at Captijn Insight

Captijn Insight“Catalyst in your process to new sustainable flow. Whether you are an individual, couple, team or an organization.”