While walking past a neighborhood Catholic church, I read their seasonal signage: "ADVENT: WHAT MUST BE CLEARED AWAY SO GOD CAN COME?" I laughed, first, because I had, from a distance read: so good can come. "Really the same thing", I thought." It echoed for me a favorite quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estés' book, "Women Who Run With the Wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype". Here is the quote:
"What must I give more death to today, in order to generate more life? What do I know should die, but am hesitant to allow to do so? What must die in me in order for me to love? What life am I afraid to give birth to?"
Estés is speaking here of transformative cycles, of what allows a purely physical relationship, for example, to transform to a new level: into a loving and satisfying life partnership...beyond young love/lust, and into trust, strength, and a shared delight. What allows any two people to deepen their relationship? They must allow their need for perfection to die. They must be willing to accept, appreciate, and love the imperfection in others and in themselves.
Pinkola Estés' comments were made in the context of ascribing meaning to a universal folk tale. Because I didn't understand the context of the church sign's message I did what most modern folk do: I looked online. After some Google Searching, I came to an article in Catholic Online, from 11-27-05, by Deacon Keith Fornier, which offered me some explanation. Deacon Fornier said that Catholics are encouraged to "get ready" during Advent, to repent their sins, to renounce wrong choices, and to "empty ourselves of ourselves" to make room for Jesus to enter in.
It is much the same, the church's "clearing away" and Estés' "dying". In both one loses what no longer serves so that a higher form of loving can be present... one removes that which inhibits love. The Catholics call what must be cleared away, "sin". I (and perhaps Estés) would call it "perfection" or "unrealistic expectations".
By the way, the other reason I laughed when I saw the church's sign was that I realized God had given me a holiday gift in the form of advice I'd been searching for. I was being reminded to love myself, to quit beating myself up for the "imperfection" of not being able to perfectly help a loved one. I have given myself a new mantra: I will speak from love...even my anger and discomfort will be spoken only from love.
May your holidays be as perfect as can be, perhaps even imperfectly perfect! No matter how you celebrate, whether you light candles on the Hanukah menorah, on an Advent wreath, a Kwanza Mishumaa Saba, or on your Christmas tree, please remember to share your "internal light". When you share that which is unique and special about you, that which only you can give, you never know who you may "gift"!
Happy Holidays from
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