Peace For Christmas

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[Previous title: “A Week Before Christmas”]

It is Sunday, one week before Christmas, and I am taking a moment to be calm, to think only about what brings a sense of nurture, to breathe, and to let what is peaceful in life flow into and through me.

I am mindful of one thing above all else …

“All I want for Christmas is Peace.”

Those are the words that I wrote to accompany a photograph that I posted onto my Instagram account this morning.  Those words speak deeply from my soul.  Those words mean much. Those words, frankly, mean everything to me.

In exactly seven days time it will be the day that we, around the world, refer to as Christmas.  Christ-mas.

Where is Christ in the “Christmas” that we know today?

We all know that the suffering and enormous shifts towards what is negative in the world this year have been unbelievable, at times unutterably bizarre.  We all know that materialism is robbing those who (literally) have nothing … no thing … many no food, no home, no dignity, no love, no warmth, no hope …. nothing.  We have all heard (if we have a device that would enable us to read this note) about the untold millions who are going without while we devour.  We know about the craziness on the American continent, which is causing so many to shake their heads in dumbfounded disbelief.  In the midst of that, we know about the excrutiating pain, hunger and fear experienced by those in the current war zones … and there are those even in countries ‘at peace’, who suffer unimaginable harm behind closed doors.  We have all seen the faces of starving people – mothers, children, men – in Africa and in other places, and the beasts with bare ribcages, and we have heard of and seen drought conditions that are ravaging large pockets of our precious Earth.  But do we care?

Do we change our ways, seek to heal the wounded children within ourselves so that we can go out and make a positive difference in a hurting world?

Do we reach a point of saturation with all the knowledge and vision of suffering and despair in huge areas of the world, turn off all the negative news … or do we feed on it and let it rub salt into our wounds?

For those who believe in the Christ, after whom the festive season has been named, this is a time of celebration and of joy, of anticipation for the feasting that will come next weekend and the exchange of gifts displayed under all manner of shapes, styles and colours of Christmas tree … Even those who do not believe in Christ will gather together to do the same … some thanking Santa Claus (Father Christmas would be more precise, if the real spirit of Christmas was still observed), for what indulgences they receive.  And while we do this, while we feast, and fest, and furiously unwrap gifts adorned with papers that have caused the felling of many, many trees … and then throw everything that wrapped those gifts unthinkingly into the rubbish bin … we forget that there are those who have NO thing. NO one. NO love. NO home. No Christmas even …

Many around the world have no knowledge of and have never heard of the man called “Christ”.  The One who came to earth, was born in a stable, performed miracles as a ‘human’ man, taught profound wisdom simply, died, rose again … continues to influence those who believe …

I have digressed from what started out as my contemplations on peace … I have digressed because my heart overflows … I have digressed because, like so many in our Western culture, my  year has also held surges of challenge … nothing like those without anything for Christmas, but my pain and suffering has been of relative nature too.  2016 has been a year that has marked personal and family milestones, and it has held significant further growth and challenges that have rubbed up against me alongside those.  Some of the challenges I have faced have done their best to defeat me, to rob me of my joy … but  I have held on … and I have held on … to the hand and to the love of Christ … no matter what.  I want to celebrate his birth, his light, his unfailing love, his richness, his loyalty, his hope, his courage, his example of perseverance against all odds, his promises, his delivery of the goods … and that I do deep down in my soul. I find Christ when I switch off the noise and listen … listen for the peace that is hidden deep down, within.  This peace is available to each of us.

Our world is crying out for peace.

Our peace will come when we readjust our focus and become intentional about seeking it.

Our children will witness peace first hand when we learn to model it.

Christmas … “for unto us a child is born” … is supposed to convey a message of Love, of Hope, of Peace.

That is all I ask for Christmas …
“All I want for Christmas is Peace.”

Peace is a five letter word that makes all the difference to each of us, when we find it, and peace is the place where hope resides.

May your Christmas be a meaningful one.

May your heart know the love of God … which is boundless.  God’s heart is pure peace.  In God there is no fear … only the many faces of true Love.

Merry Christmas.

Joy, hope, love, and Peace to the world.

Peace.

It is what will feed those who have not … it is where Love resides.

Peace.

It is all I ask for Christmas.

Just Peace.  In every guise.

Om Shanti.
Shalom.
Peace.

It is nearly Christmas, after all.

~ Holly ~

 

 

 

Note: the featured photograph is taken from a Christmas card, purchased from the RHS – horticultural charity – part of an illustration designed by Alison McGarrigle (courtesy Portfolio Select Ltd).
 

A Moment Before Christmas

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A moment of mindfulness, under this year’s fresh and fragrant Christmas tree.


 

 

Written on Monday 21 December 2015

 

I have stolen away from all the things I am ‘supposed’ to be doing, to do something that I need to do … to write a few thoughts down and to catch a moment, to consider and to prepare for the coming Christmas days.  Less than an hour ago, I was in a blind panic, about all that remains to complete on my To Do list, and then I pulled myself together with the remembrance that there are so many around the world right now, for whom Christmas will have anything but a To Do list, a To Buy list, or a to invite list …

I know that this is the time of year when many around the world feel the deepest sense of aloneness, purposelessness and loss. I am aware that we are among the fortunate few on the planet, who have a roof over our heads, food in our tummies every single day, warmth as we snuggle down into our beds at night in the northern hemisphere, know comfort as we do the same in the south, and so much around us from whence we can each draw joy, if we will but stop a moment and see how much we are each blessed by.  And so, I stopped.  In the midst of my busy, modern Christmastime anxiety, I just stopped. I breathed. I remembered those less busy, less encumbered with ‘blessings’, and I gave thanks that I have people in my life for whom I ‘must do’ and complete my To Do list for.

What has happened to Christmas?  What has happened to the Christ child in the meaning and the midst of Christmas?  What has happened to the hearts of those hell bent on spending their cash on things that they and others truly do not need?  What has happened to this time of year when, despite the shops being full and the banks’ coffers overflowing, so many go without everything that we take for granted, and so many have not one loving soul to warm their hearts with?  Why are so many doing so much to sell us what they and we know that none of us truly needs for life to go well?  Why have we become so needs orientated and so acquisitive, anyway, so goal orientated rather than love inclined?

Why have we forgotten that this is the time when we remember how Love came down to meet us where we are already at?  How can we imagine that materialism and things can fulfil us, when those who are totally alone at this time of year know only too well that they cannot?   How many would give their eye teeth to have someone loving to hold?   How many fear the alcoholic rages that follow the “Christmas Cheer”?  How many children wait expectantly for Father Christmas, or Santa (who has stolen the show), and yet many live in fear of what their own fathers might do to them, and have no knowledge of the Father who is our very own and loving God?  How many have grown to hate Christmas, because it hurts, or sends them into spiralling debt?  How many dread the gatherings and the opulence, when all they really want and need is love?

At the start of this day, a mere four days before Christmas Day itself, I had so many plans and intentions of things to complete, my list long and courageously ambitious, as I continue to struggle with the pain of a recently strained back.  At the beginning of this day the morning sky lit up, with tones of pink highlighting the clearing grey clouds, offering hope and promise of strength and resolve and fortitude … and I have done the best I could with those. However, the end of the day is here now, and I have left most of my List a dream and a hope for tomorrow, undone and only with the help of a miracle to be completed in good time. I believe in miracles, have seen and know a fair few myself, but it seems that this time my List really is ridiculous and life is showing me to calm it all right down.

Four years ago, for the first time, I hosted Christmas (with all the traditional British trimmings) in our own home here, with and for my wider family in the UK.  In previous years, we had either been living in Australia, or had spent Christmas in one or another of my UK family members’ homes, but that year I had begged to be the one (as the eldest sibling), to do Christmas for everyone in our home for once.  I look back now at all that was so lovingly created for that day, by myself and by my children and a friend from Hong Kong who was staying with us, and I marvel at the beautiful homemade Christmas crackers, the food (so simple and yet for me, coming out of a breakdown, such a major feat to produce, tasty and on time).  For the first time in my life, I had made Christmas pudding (organic and to my own experimental recipe) for our family to share. Adventurously, I had baked an impressive organic Christmas cake (partly my own recipe too, a scary first time process, baking it nervously in my trusty round Le Creuset), completely homemade and iced, even the marzipan was made by my own hand. That Christmas had every element of magic and joy that I could conjure up, working against so much that had been and was holding me back, and I think I and my team of merry helpers managed to pull it off well … the pictures, in hindsight, certainly looked respectable!

This year, with only my small nuclear family around our table on Christmas Day, I want to create the magic that we have all enjoyed at other festive occasions and places, in previous years.  This year, however, we are keeping everything very, very simple.  Our gifts are simple, things that each person really needs, lavishness a thing for others, our company much decreased in numbers, our peace and goodwill at the centre of our meaningful time, rather than all the trimmings that create the chaos, the bling, the acquisitiveness, the potential for debt along the road … We have been beautifully blessed by the arrival of Christmas cards, each one appreciated for the love and the time that went into its creation or its thought, and it is in these little things that we see the gifts of presence, of friends near and far, and loved ones who are missed, too far away to touch and hug and feel nearby.

In days long past, as I was growing up in Africa, we would usually only put up our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  Now, I often wonder how there was the time to attend that task, with so much else  to attend on that day.  Some put up their tree many weeks before Christmas, but ours usually appears to take its stage in the fortnight leading up to Christmas, once both of my children have returned home from boarding school or university, and are here to enjoy its choosing, as well as attend the decoration and sparkly splendour that goes with the desired end result.  Having stood our fresh tree in a metal bucket of water, the trunk held steady with variously sized stones, we light the interior of the deep green needled branches with warmly coloured strands of Christmassy light, then surround the base of the tree with a plain calico cloth, upon which our gifts are placed on Christmas Eve.  As we build the scene, we try to keep things calm and co-ordinated, choosing baubles, little wooden ornaments and glistening stars from a selection that has travelled from southern to northern hemisphere with us … the shiny red apples a gift from my mother on my first Christmas in Australia, always a regular on our tree.  Nothing is ever hung before the little wooden nativity scene has been safely secured in a visible spot, nestled amongst the boughs, the real meaning of Christmas taking pride of place in our home.

Today, I broke with tradition once more and began to create a Christmas pudding for Christmas Day … something I had intended to do on the weekend of “Stir Up Sunday”, a month ago.  No doubt I have left this task too late for the flavours to mellow and mingle, but a wish and a prayer might see it through to become a taste sensation, hopefully producing a good waft of dessert joy.  This year I shall attempt to create our pudding successfully with a gluten free flour and, if it turns out really well, we might enjoy it at a future gathering with the wider family, where everyone can happily tuck in.  I wish I had started this process earlier in the year, but the ‘ideal’ time had other pressing commitments, and so this one will happen now, traditional timing out the Advent window, so to speak.

Four days before Christmas … if said pudding works and I pull it off in this time, a new pudding tradition may well have begun.  The very act of stirring those fruits and zests and liquids, as the Christmas Pudding’s raw ingredients came together bit by bit today, was enough to get me powered forward.  As I breathed the lovely, familiar smells of Christmas, in calm silence, without any music needed to add to the ambience, I was filled with hope that, despite all that remains on my list To Do, I shall manage to do only what needs to be done, and only in a way that retains calm and can be done lovingly and well.

In closing my record of thoughts leading up to Christmas, I have been pondering too that yesterday I read a mindful piece about Christmas, written by a Buddhist monk.  In his thoughtful article, the writer mentioned that “The Pope has shared that this Christmas there is nothing to be joyous about, because there are so many among us choosing hate and violence instead of peace and love.”  It is a sobering thought, and so sad that Pope Francis should feel moved to say this, isn’t it?  We, who are safe and loved, have so much to be grateful for. If you would like to read it too, the full article is at http://plumvillage.org/news/a-green-santa-and-a-hug-of-love/

I hope that in these days leading up to Christmas, you will know an abiding peace in your heart, and that all your plans and hopes for Christmas will be beautifully and fruitfully realised.  Let’s spare thoughts and share our hearts and treasures with those not quite as blessed as us.

In Peace and evergreen Love,

Holly x

 

 

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Our 2011 homemade Christmas cake.

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Our little homemade angel, atop our 2011 Christmas tree, her flowing hair made of the purest wool and wings of softest felt.

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The beautiful wreath for our front door, made lovingly by my daughter and a friend, with plant offerings from the garden.  December 2011.

Appreciation Of Nature And Creation

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A couple of weeks ago I penned a few brief words, as I pondered the ludicrousness of ignoring our Creator. The words are short and sharp and pointed, but they are not meant to harm, merely to open a shutter of light and let the awareness of magnificence in …

~ : ~

It is pointless worshipping Nature, while ignoring the One who created it all.  What an insult to Divine Intelligence!  And what freedom of spirit to know that, whilst out in Nature, one is in a Cathedral of the most magnificent order, where worship is free and the spirit is unleashed.

All of Nature is a temple and each body is a temple of spirit.  The One who created it all cannot be escaped, no matter how intelligent a human thinks he is.  Scientists and NASA staff get this now …

Mere Mortal, how about surrendering to the fact that, when you’re in dire straits, you’re going to need divine intervention?

Well, look around … how much did YOU create and how much ‘stuff’ can you rely on still being around if and when your Important Economy fails?

Face it … we did not manifest ourselves. Oh, I’m so over that stupid argument.

In Peace.

I’m off to ‘the woods’ to pray.

And play.

In Nature’s Cathedral.

With the bees and the butterflies, the bugs and the birds.

Thank goodness I don’t have to look after them too.
Why?
Because God does it.

Truly.
He is Awesome.
And so are You.

 

~ : ~

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Blessings,
Holly x

 

 

[Note: Top photo: Poignant, peaceful prayer flags in a botanic garden – August 2015.]

Christians Are Called To Be Spiritual

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Christians
are called
to be spiritual.

We have
God the Father,
God the Son,
and
God the Holy Spirit
living in us.

To ignore the entire ‘body’ of God,
is to ignore who God is,
and is to ignore
what is required of us
as believers in Him.

Christians are called to follow God
in spirit and in wholeness and in truth.

And,
with the New Covenant now firmly in place,
we are to do all
in the Name of Jesus.

God is Love,
God is Light,
God is Spirit,
God is Truth.

Always.

~ : ~

 

 

With love,

Holly x

 

PS. Photographer’s note: the blue dot in the photo is a little quirk of the camera at the moment.  As it catches the light, it adds a touch of ‘magic’, don’t you think?

Judging And Loving

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Judging And Loving

Don’t judge that which you cannot understand,
For only fools do that.
Don’t judge the one whose shoes you’ve not walked in,
Unless you know that you could walk his path.
Don’t judge others,
For while you point one finger, three are pointing back at you.
Don’t sit around chewing over the life of another,
While your own life’s clock is ticking past.
Don’t use your head to judge a situation,
When your heart could do it better for you.
Don’t judge what you cannot feel,
For in the process you might condemn the one who can.
Don’t judge unless you have the right to,
Knowing that things of the soul do not stand up in a court of law.
Don’t judge that which you have no control over,
For in the process you might imprison yourself.
Don’t judge the ones who have been placed in your life,
For they might well be there to teach and love you.
Don’t cripple the ones who give you unconditional love,
Their love might be the best you will ever receive.
Not judging is a karmic equation,
Which stands fully spoken and written at length about in the Bible too.
Instead of judging, try loving
And then stand back and watch how much love flows back towards you.

 

 

~ : ~

 

 

Holly x

 

 

 

© Holly Maxwell Boydell
All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Double For Your Trouble

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Healthy, bountiful organic blackcurrants – symbols to me of vigour and wellbeing and abundant provision.

 

One day I heard that God was going to gift me “double for my trouble”.  This was an awesome promise.  I could hardly believe that anyone, let alone God, could make up for all the ‘avalanches’, the trials and shocks, the pain and all the sorrow.

Well, he is doing just as he promised, by sprinklings of blessings each and every day, training me to stretch and grow even further, as he prepares me for treasure and goodness to come.  My job is to notice even the tiniest of blessings, lean only on him, and to stay firmly in his light.

For anyone going through tough times, please know that this way, the way of acceptance and trust, is assured and it is the safest. Hold on to the rope of supernatural strength offered to us from a heavenly father who loves us.  Take each moment and each hour gently.  Be kind to yourself most of all, because that is the way to manage and from that centre all kindness becomes possible, and know that you are incredibly loved by the One who created our entire Universe.  Don’t doubt it, just trust it.  Let yourself surrender to the awesomeness of your secure place in the scheme of things and know that, whatever happens, all is well and all will be well and all is as it should be.

Even what looks horrendous to us and what feels unbelievably unfair, can and will be used for good. Trust that, believe it, surrender to it and step into the next moment stronger than you were in the last moment.

We cannot reach the summit by standing at the bottom wishing … we have to take a little step, and then another little step, and then another … and we will only reach the summit if we believe that we can, taking the rests that we need, nurturing ourselves, and encouraging ourselves.

So, be kind to yourself, first and foremost, rest whenever you need to, notice that you are breathing and that your breath is a wonderful thing.  Love your breath and watch it often.  Trust, stay in the light, and walk on … one little step at a time. You too will receive “double for your trouble”.  Don’t give up.

In strength and love and understanding,


Holly x

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Stunning jewels of light and goodness – organic red currants, ripe and ready for harvest.

What would Jesus do?

In my quietest moments, and sometimes even in the midst of a current or a raging storm, I wonder to myself “What would Jesus do?”

Over twenty years ago, I sat on a panel in London, speaking to an audience of other Christians who attended the Church I loved to be part of too, and I told them from my heart that I believed we needed to take care of our bodies, our ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’. My voice was a lone one in the room that night. And many times since, amongst similar crowd.

A few years after sitting on the panel in London, I stood on a beautiful property in Australia, longing with all my heart to convert it to organic, and I told the ones whom I was with at the time, whom I also loved, that we believers have to take care of the Earth. I was looked askance at, many a time. Once, when my little daughter ran up to a tree and lovingly hugged it (as she had seen done, I’m sure, on Sesame Street, but the action clearly came straight from her heart), I was looked askance at, as her mother, and my daughter was told that she was a “Tree Hugger”. That was not an endearing term and I was horrified from whence it came. I walked on, and sometimes I think I should have walked away. But I loved more, and I continued on my path.

As time has gone on, the fire has burnt ever brighter inside me and I have faced all sorts of ridicule and opposition to both my faith and my belief in how important it is that we show our love to the Earth. I have not wavered from my path, and nor have the many others who have been on this path too, around the world, because we hear and see the messages, intellectual or otherwise, and the situation is now a critical one.

If Jesus walked into the room right now, I hope he would say I have been a faithful servant, but I don’t know. All I know is that we are now hearing from religious leaders too, about caring for our planet, and I thank heaven that they have heard the message at last. I do not call myself ‘religious’, I have no rituals to my belief and will not allow another to own me ever again, having been burnt too many times, but I have a reverence for God, my father, whom I believe created all of this, and listening to the Holy Spirit is fundamental to my life.

I hope I’m right in saying this: we must take care of our bodies, our temples, and we must take care of the Earth too. The Earth is our home while we live in our physical shapes, and it behoves us all to work towards its longevity and good health. Is that what Jesus would say? Is that what Jesus would do? I don’t know … but Genesis tells me clearly it is exactly what he would want to hear.

And what of the Native American Indians, so in tune with who they are and where they came from? And the other tribes and groups who too remember their connection? I think Jesus would sit well in their midst, and they would all take bread together, in reverence for our spirit and our beautiful Mother Earth.

Our bodies are our ‘temples’, our Earth is our ‘home’. Surely we ought to do the same?
Love them.

Holly x

Children Learn what they Live

IMG_0004 - copy - CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE  - by Dorothy Law Nolte

 

 

 

 

Words by Dorothy Law Nolte PhD.
Image and layout by Holly Maxwell Boydell.
Prepared and posted onto The White Space’s page in January 2015 at http://www.facebook.com/thewhitespace.

 

~ : ~

 

 


 

 

 

Added note:

 

The adults running the world right now, are the children of yesterday.
The children of today are the adults of tomorrow.
They will run our world – the way we taught them.
What we learnt and absorbed as children, is being played out in our lives right now.
It behoves us all to learn to see the world as children, relearn the lessons, and think before we act. In business, in all professions, in parenting, in all spheres of life.
We live what we learnt. We can change.

 

~ Holly Maxwell Boydell

 

 

 

 

 

[Additional words and Tag added Wednesday 17 February 2016]