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Making Space for a Peaceful Moment

Making Space for a Peaceful Moment
Sherry Jennings

Into deep darkness shines a light.
A candle flame burns clear and bright.

The darkness of December arrives; the sensation that the night is swallowing the day strengthens. For young children there is no consciousness yet of this cycle of the sun or the turning of the seasons. Without choice their physical bodies respond, usually with periods of longer and deeper sleep. One can imagine them being called out into the long, dark nights to commune with the stars.

For parents this sensation that the light is receding is legitimate. Dawn comes later, dusk earlier. Here in New England, life can add to the heaviness as it presents more challenges — wood to carry, snow to shovel, more time needed to layer the children in warm clothing, less sunshine each day to lift spirits. There may be inner struggles arising from sudden illness, accidents, relationship challenges, or even the added stress of preparing for family celebrations. Parents are asked to stretch to encompass world events and catastrophes as well as the daily responsibilities of meal preparation, laundry, caring for ill children, conflict resolution.

Who would not like at times to curl up with the bears and squirrels in a snow cave or nest and hibernate until Spring?

But as caregivers, hibernation is not an option. Tummies continue to get hungry and diapers need to be changed. Yet inwardly there may remain the longing deep within — like the children — to commune with the stars.

In addition, there are the demands that we, as adults, put on ourselves; this shopping to complete, these cookies to bake, these presents to wrap, these solstice celebrations to prepare. Whatever traditions you may have, they easily contribute to more tasks to complete, less sleep, and more stress.

Yet what your young children need from you at this busy season of the year is a sense of calm and steady peace, a mood that they can sink into and breathe in deeply. Once you find this calm, peaceful place within yourselves, the children will be bathed in it. Like the colored liquid ascending the celery stalk in your seventh-grade science experiment about osmosis, your children will drink in your inner mood of quiet and peace.

Though these dark days of December may not present a crisis, there is something that can be learned from the Chinese book of wisdom, the I Ching. In this book, life situations are addressed through considering one of 64 hexagrams composed of two three-line images — one over the other. Those images for the Crisis hexagram represent Danger over Opportunity. Stressed out by the overload of the December holiday season, there is always possibility/opportunity for change.

Here are two suggestions for ways to begin to make changes, to simplify — to create the mood of peace and calm you are seeking for you and your children. You will find more ways on your own. In these times there can never be too many stress-busters!

  1. Look at the list of tasks you want to accomplish this month and see them as requests of yourself as opposed to demands that you are required to complete. After all, you are in charge; you can cross items off without any fear that someone else will fire you. You are the boss.
  2. Take time each day to light candles. One at the breakfast nook even if you are hurrying to get everyone out the door, many at the dinner table, one as you quietly walk with your child from the getting-ready-for-bed routine to the bedtime ritual before sleep. Sit with your children as you take in the glow in the room, in your children’s faces as they drift off to sleep. Perhaps even take a few minutes before you go to bed to sit quietly by yourself in the light of one candle. What a gift!

Into deep darkness shines a light.
A candle flame burns clear and bright.

Amazing — the power of one light in the darkness to heal and bring peace!

The Young Child

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