— Meister Eckhart
Touchstones for Christmas Gatherings
Be 100% present, extending and presuming welcome. Set aside the usual distractions. Bring all of yourself to the relationships. We all learn most effectively in spaces that welcome us. Welcome others to this place and this time, and presume that you are welcomed.
Listen deeply. Listen intently to what is said; listen to the feelings beneath the words. “To ‘listen’ another’s soul into life, into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.” [Writer Douglas Steere] Listen to yourself also. Strive to achieve a balance between listening and reflecting, speaking and acting.
Always by invitation. To help create an atmosphere of trust, help people have authentic boundaries, so each soul can determine the extent to which they want to participate in discussions and activities.
No fixing. Each of us is here to discover our own truths, and depths of gratitude. We are not here to set someone else straight, to “fix” or “correct” what we perceive as broken or incorrect in another family member or friend.
Suspend judgment. Set aside your judgments. By creating a space between judgments and reactions, we can listen to the other, and to ourselves, more fully — and thus our perspectives, decisions, and actions are more informed.
Identify assumptions. Our assumptions are usually invisible to us, yet they under-gird our worldview, our decisions, and our actions. By identifying our assumptions, we can then set them aside and open our viewpoints to greater possibilities.
Speak your truth. Say what is in your heart, trusting that your voice will be heard and your contribution respected. Your truth may be different from, even the opposite of, what another in the Christmas gathering has said. Speaking your truth is not debating with, or correcting, or interpreting what another has said. Own your truth by speaking only for yourself, using “I” statements.
Respect silence. Silence is a rare gift in our busy world. After you or someone else has spoken, sometimes it is OK to take time to reflect and fully listen, without immediately filling the space with words.
Respect confidentiality. Create a safe space by respecting others and resisting “gossip.”
When things get difficult, turn to wonder. If you find yourself disagreeing with another, becoming judgmental, shutting down in defense, try turning to wonder: “I wonder what brought her to this place?” “I wonder what my reaction teaches me?” “I wonder what he’s feeling right now?”
— Adapted from “Hidden Wholeness” by Parker Palmer
Christmas Blessings to All . . .