Last night I dreamed of a sunflower. Solstice is here and I dreamed of a flower that reaches for the sun, looks to the sun and continues each day to turn towards the sun. I awoke to the darkest day of the year, yet in my dreams I was a sunflower reaching for the sun.
In the dark days of winter we look to the holidays to brighten our lives. We long for the light always. For thousands of years people have celebrated the return of the sun during Winter Solstice. Newer holiday traditions have us stringing lights outside and inside. We will find ways to bring the light into our lives even during these cold, dark winter days.
To dream of the sunflower is to be reminded to look for that light always. As I awoke from my sunflower dream I felt an abundance of love and gratitude for those who are near and dear to me. The sunflower was reminding me that even when it is dark, as it is at solstice, the light returns. We ebb and flow through cycles of darkness and light in our own lives, and the cycles of the earth, the stars and the sun are mirrors for what we experience in our inner world. My dream reminded me of the overwhelming amount of love and light that is available to me, when I turn and look for it. If I keep myself focused on love and light, I receive love and light.
In 2008 in Cedar Rapids terrible floods wiped out homes and destroyed everything for miles. But in the spring, the sunflowers returned. These hardy flowers came back, everything was barren, but the sunflowers returned.
For the people of that city, the sunflower was a message of hope and a promise for a better day.
We must hold the promise of new growth and the hope for a better day in our hearts all year long. There are many people struggling right now. There are many situations on the planet that seem impossible to overcome. Yet we must find a way to look for the good, in order to bring more goodness into this world.
As you celebrate the holidays with friends or family, remember to look for the good. Celebrate what brings you together, what bonds you as family or friends. Be open and non-judgemental about differences. Celebrate with each other, by remembering what we all hold dear. We all wish for more peace on earth and we all wish to love and to be loved. These are the gifts we can give each other despite other differences.
I remember a story I heard once about a young man who had just become a Buddhist. He was very enthusiastic about his beliefs and went home to his Christian family for the holidays. He showed up in the robes of his faith, his head was shaved and his family was aghast. He refused to eat the turkey his mother had lovingly prepared, he spoke of simplification and detachment from material things as his family handed out presents. He refused to pray as the others prayed and by the end of the day everyone was miserable.
The following year he had learned much. He returned as the Buddha, and wore clothes that fit in, he ate his mother’s food, prayed with the others and embraced the day. He was able to be present, to understand what Buddha tried to teach; to accept each other, not to judge or condemn others, but to simply love them. He did not need to preach, he simply loved his family as Buddha would.
Jesus was also known to dine with those of different faiths and backgrounds, shocking the Jewish leaders of that time. Many spiritual leaders throughout time have taught us not to preach and condemn, but to focus instead on love and acceptance of everyone, even those you consider your enemies.
On a plane trip once I sat next to a man, who when he heard my occupation and calling spent the entire flight literally thumping his Bible at me and telling me I was going to go to hell. Now what did I do? I meditated on Jesus and Buddha and other spiritual teachers, and I loved that man the whole way. I just let him say what he wanted, and I remained peaceful and loving.
People in the rows around us were peering over their seats and around the backs of seats to see this man, and they rolled their eyes as they looked at me. I just smiled and remained non-judgemental, knowing this man had passion in his beliefs, just as I do, and I relished his enthusiasm. I found what we had in common, and I used that to see into his heart. I looked for what was good. Like the sunflower, I long to connect with the light in everyone.
So as you look forward to being with your loved ones, and especially if you are not looking forward to being with your loved ones…make the effort to find something good in everyone. Like the sunflower looks to the sun, look for the light in each other. This light lives in everyone. And that light is love.
I wish you a beautiful holiday. My holiday wish for you is to know what it is to give with an open heart, to receive more than you hoped for and to know the greatest peace in 2010. Like the sunflower, look to the sunshine…
With Love and Appreciation,
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