“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” Nelson Mandela
The holidays are a time when we often return to where we grew up or to our parents’ home. It can be a wonderful and joyous occasion or one where we tread lightly around certain topics, but if we have grown over the years and become our own person, it may be a time when we see clearly the contrast between who we were and who we are now.
We All Change with Time
We all grow in some way as the years pass. Even those who ferociously resist change and try to force their ways on others change—usually becoming more angry and brittle. But most of us try to learn from our mistakes and be open to learning new ways of doing things that will benefit us and our families. Besides, when we don’t think our way is the only way, we can connect more easily with those who are different.
Mandela Is A Model for Forgiveness
This week we have mourned the death of Nelson Mandela and celebrated his extraordinary life. Living in a country of extreme contrasts, he was able to unite the people by demonstrating that we can choose to forgive our enemies, no matter how horrendous their behavior was, and in doing so, we free ourselves from bitterness and hate. Certainly his life was full of contrasts.
Contrast Show Us What We Want and What We Don’t Want
In the Law of Attraction literature, contrast is the word that is used to describe negative events, the things that happen that we don’t want to attract. It’s true that life is filled with experiences we like and others we don’t, and each contrast is an opportunity to re-examine what we did to create it. Abraham, channeled by Esther Hicks, states, “When you have lived an experience that helps you understand in an exaggerated way, the very thing you do not want, you also understand in an exaggerated way, what you do want.”
Few of us will ever have the kind of profound influence that Nelson Mandela had on other human beings. But we each, in our own way, may choose to learn from the contrast in our lives, and accept the choices other people make that are different from ours. If we can create just a little peace in our own environment, we are contributing to world peace.
As We Grow, Our Past Is Illuminated
Years after leaving the town where I grew up, I returned to visit and was startled by how small the house was. It seemed spacious to me as a child as I lay on the dining room floor, my books spilling out of the bureau, and read or colored. The external reality was small, but my internal experience was large as I explored life through literature.
Let Us Embrace Our Differences
This often happens to us. As our world grows larger, what we used to know seems smaller or more confined. Until I attended college in the 1960s, I had never attended school with any children who were not white. Fortunately, I was reared by a mother who believed that all people were equal and deserved equal rights so that when I did met people of other races I was curious. Despite some initial discomfort, I made a real effort to understand our differences and to relate respectfully.
Over the years, I taught students from many cultures and doing so has enriched my life experience with many contrasts. As a result, I have learned and grown from these experiences. My spiritual journey has also been filled with experiences and practices that differ from my family’s traditional spiritual path. They attend Catholic and Protestant churches, and I attend meetings of a spiritual community that prefers not to be called a “church.” My path seems strange to them, but it brings me peace and happiness, and their path is very meaningful to them. We think differently, but we accept our differences.
When I wrote my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness, I traveled back into time as I read through the journals I’d kept for many years and was able to see all the ways I had changed over the years. Some of it was inspiring and I could feel proud of how I had expanded my thinking, but there were also times when I was appalled by the way I mangled a situation. Still, the contrasts were steps I had to take on my way to become a more peaceful and caring person.
So this holiday, as we visit with family and old friends, let us appreciate the contrasts that appear and let us honor the sometimes challenging spiritual path through life that we each travel.
HOLIDAY GIFT SUGGESTION
If you are looking for an inspiring gift for a friend, please consider my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness. It is available through Amazon.com, Kindle, Nook, and CreateSpace ID#1002950.
© 2013 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5