2005-12-09 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Creating Simplicity from Chaos
By Dr. Nancy Gahles


DR. nancy gahlesDR. nancy gahles One of my favorite Chinese hexagrams from the I Ching is Chaos. “Out of chaos comes great opportunity” is how the divination reads. This time of year is traditionally fraught with the hectic activities of entertaining and shopping. In direct opposition to this frenetic activity is the time of the season that lies between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa. The winter solstice is the day that marks a turning point. This is the day that marks the return of the sun. Ancient records indicate that the Mesopotamians were the first to celebrate this event in the skies with a 12-day festival of renewal. This was designed to help the god Marduk tame the monsters of chaos for one more year.

After we have celebrated and given thanks and praise for all that we have received and been delivered from, we now are given the great opportunity to tame the monster of chaos. And it is for certain that the monster rears its ugly head the day after Thanksgiving on what is suitably named Black Friday. People wait all night on line for the stores to open and then rush in wildy, trampling others in a mad chaotic dash to purchase things for the holidays. I use the word “things” purposefully. I haven’t seen people waiting in line to visit their mother in the nursing home. I haven’t seen people waiting in line to bring a meal to a house bound person. I haven’t seen people rushing and trampling others on their way to give community service. I certainly haven’t seen my children rushing wildly to put a load of wash in for me. I use the word “people” purposefully. People are important. Things are not.

The winter solstice was celebrated in ancient times. A time when people didn’t have many things. The return of light was symbolic of a quickening of the relationship of heaven and earth in a heartfelt way. One unique example of this is a megalithic site in Ireland called Newgrange. This is a huge circular stone structure that is 5,000 years old. It is older than the Egyptian pyramids and older than Stonehenge. It is made from stone because that is all they had. They didn’t have metal in the prehistoric age. It was simple. It was built to receive a shaft of sunlight deep into its central chamber at dawn on the winter solstice. Newgrange is said to be the home of Oenglus, the god of love. The depths of the central chamber are symbolic of the heart. The light of the sun penetrating deeply within illustrates that chaos was transformed on this day into an opportunity to celebrate love.

Simple. Keeping it simple will allow the light to shine through into this season. Remembering the people first and not the things will give you moments to pause and to ponder what you can do with this person or for this person that will be a true gift. A heartfelt gift of yourself, your time, and your energy.

Yes, I did say time and energy, commodities that are sparse. And you can’t wait on line to buy them. You have to create them. You can do it in three simple steps.

Be Still. Listen. Create. Carve out some time for yourself (gift number one!). This is the same time that you would spend at the shopping mall. Make your list. Go over each person on the list and meditate on him/her. Ask yourself or them what they would like for the holiday. Here’s the important step…you have to listen. Objectively and without judgment. Don’t buy him a tie when he wants you to take him to a movie. Next to their name jot down the first thought or feeling that comes to mind when you think of that person. Then, create. Create gifts of the heart. Give gifts of your time and energy, the most precious commodities. They are like the gold and frankincense of old, highly valued and rare. Give a gift certificate for places that you will take them to, be it a restaurant, a movie, a play or a spa.

Creating simplicity from chaos is easy. It is a great opportunity to divest yourself of an old way of thinking. Buying more and more stuff, charging more and more on your credit card is very stressful. Take the opportunity to change. Create simplicity by channeling the light of the sun into the deep chambers of your heart and give Love. The perfect gift. Everyone needs it. You can’t have too much of it. And it lasts forever. It’s up to you to imagine endless personalized ways to deliver it. One thing I know for sure is that the more you give, the more it comes back to you. The perfect gift is the one that you would have gotten for yourself. And we all want Love. It’s simple, it’s affordable and you can’t take it back! You can return it, though, creating an endless give and take of the energy that sustains us!

On Dec. 21, at the dawn of the winter solstice, I hope to hear the roar of the taming of the monster of chaos as the breaking dawn ushers in a time of renewal, a return to simplicity, the promise of Light in the deep chambers of our hearts.

May The Blessings Be!

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