Dear Sor Juana,
The year is coming to a close and in our hemisphere the summer days collide with Christmas. It is a juxtaposition of openings and closings. Closure is a forecast to an opening, a new beginning. Out of office notices start to appear, conversations turn to sand, sea and surf reports, an eye is kept on bushfire alerts as the mercury rises, sausages sizzle on de-cobwebbed BBQs ready for family and friends to drop by.
Packing up the year and reflecting on what has been, is an invitation to what lies ahead as well. What can be packed up, what will go on rinse and repeat, what will never happen again? Don’t leave the lessons learnt from the year behind, they maybe useful companions in the year ahead.
Accumulating wisdom is one way I like to think of the visitors from the East in the nativity story. They brought their wisdom to the foot of a child in a donkey’s trough. Imagine receiving gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold a transition metal the subject of alchemy, perhaps it is an alchemist bearing the product of his chemistry (after all chemistry means magic). Frankincense bankrupted a civilization when it was currency. This amazing oil full of healing properties to relieve chronic stress and anxiety, reducing pain and inflammation, boosting immunity. The carrier in our nativity tale perhaps someone who knew the essence of life and how to build resilience. Essential oils require distillation, what a grand metaphor to bring to the crib – to distil the essence of life. And then the myrrh, derived from a thorny bush, a predictor of things to come, intoxicating perfume that can only be harvested from its source through repeatedly wounding the tree to bleed and release its sap. What a message here of the gifts of pain, release and prophecy for lies ahead for all of us as we enter fully into our own journey and story. The opening and closing of the child in Bethlehem has myrrh as book ends for his life and death.
What are the gifts we bring to this season that will last our whole life through? Who are the ones who bring you gold, frankincense and myrrh?
Looking for the alchemy, the essence and release will be part of how I spend reflecting on this year and what I need to keep an eye out for in what is ahead.