A few seasonal thoughts and a warming recipe with star anise, my gift for you!
Here in Northwest USA, where days are quite short on the Winter Solstice, frosty fog obscures the sunlight, a fitting welcome to this turning of the seasons! Outside my window three deer munch along the trail into our yard, hesitate, and munch back up the trail. I have not seen them in months and it is a sweet solstice gift to know they survived hunting season.
If you are not feeling celebratory as we enter this holiday season, I hope this quote posted on Facebook by a friend, might help you along.
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.
Christmas and Hanukkah both celebrate hope, love, peace. Because many are feeling we are entering a time, not of light, but of darkness and despair, it is doubly important to embrace the message of hope, love and peace and carry it into the New Year in all we do. Let it influence how we relate to others as we fulfill our responsibilities at work, in our families and in our communities. Let it influence actions we take, decisions we make. Most of all, let it be in our thoughts. Regardless of outer circumstances, or who is in “power” we alone control our thoughts, and our thoughts have power.
I recently listened to an interview with Anthony Ray Hinton, sentence to death for murders he did not commit, held on death row in solitary confinement for 30 years. His story is compelling. I read other articles and interviews of him, wanting to know all I could about how a person survives such a horrific journey into darkness. Anthony Ray, a good person, raised to live a decent, law abiding life, was convicted because he was black, though evidence did not prove he was even at the crime scene. Anthony Ray went through many phases of anger, mental escapism, and spiritual faith. He said he learned he could take his mind wherever he wanted to go. For 30 years he went every where, beautiful places, football games, to visit the Queen of England. No, he did not lose his mind and go crazy. He survived through the power of controlling his thoughts, for his surroundings and circumstances where not intended for his survival. He consciously and with intent created a life through mind power, a life he was deprived of by an unjust criminal justice system. Bryan Stephenson, attorney with the Equal Justice Initiative worked for 16 years to open the case with new evidence, and was turned down three times. Finally, the case was reopened, the evidence examined, and April 2015 Anthony Ray was released into a world he knew only in his mind. (His case was not overturned because of DNA, but DNA testing has resulted in many other people freed after equally long prison terms for crimes they did not commit.)
Anthony’s story is an example of the power of the mind, not the usual example where people say they ‘manifest’ what they want in their lives, or bring about miracle healings, etc., compelling as some of those stories are. His story is the power of the mind to bring light and beauty into ones soul regardless of outer circumstances. To survive in the face of feeling powerlessness. It is a story of hope.
Let your mind take you where you want to go in the New Year, let it envision the world as you would like it to be, regardless of how outer circumstances may appear.
Have a wonderful holiday season, celebrating in whatever tradition you celebrate, the message of hope, love and peace! Let peace guide your actions, carry hope in your mind and love in your heart, even when outer circumstances do not seem to reflect any of these three.
Below – a recipe for a warm, spicy, easy winter comfort food, made from most the elements of this mandala. You’ve probably made it yourself, if not, it’s a yummy treat alone, or as a condiment or sauce with other foods. To make it sweeter, I recommend adding maple syrup to taste. (Makes everyday morning oatmeal a holiday treat!)