Did you receive holiday cards this year? Are they still around? If you haven’t tossed them yet, here's a meditation exercise that I recently gleaned from a friend's back issue of Spirituality and Health Magazine.*
Up until this year, I’ve put cards up on a mantel, or on a large ribbon, and then at the end of the Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year season, it was a little sad to just toss those pretty cards into the recycle bin. Sometimes I cut out new gift tags from the fronts. But what I am about to share goes beyond recycling.
Save those cards in a basket or bowl. Then, in January, after all the bustle has calmed down and your routines are back, find a few minutes to deliberately put your hand in the bowl and draw out a few cards. Look at just the first one. Spend time really seeing the front, examining the artwork, enjoying the colors and all the careful work that the artist put into it. Then read the printed greeting.
Now, if the sender wrote something in it, read what he or she said, and concentrate on the signature. Close your eyes for a few moments and picture that person, maybe that family, in your mind’s eye. Send affection and wishes for their peace and health in the New Year. Thank them, in your thoughts, for sending you the card.
When the meditation feels complete, you can release the card (feel free to save some for bookmarks or gift tags). With luck, you might be dipping into your cards a little at a time through the next couple of months.
I can scarcely overstate the powerful effect of this meditation. During my first handful of cards, I remembered far-flung loved ones, carefully read their news, pondered the ancient stories portrayed on the card fronts, and even wrote an overdue letter in response. I was also inspired, by one, to visit the UNICEF site and purchase my cards for next season. Even more, as I read the cards I felt my heart growing larger, lighter, and warmer. Closing my eyes over the last card, I felt briefly connected to a larger, energizing galaxy of goodwill.
I love how The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin talks about maximizing your happiness. Happiness is an inside job, right? Sometimes a wonderful event just flits right by and is swallowed up again—but we, and only we, have the power to make it something more. We can anticipate an event or a treat, we can participate in it, and then we can remember it, perhaps retell it. Multiple joys from one event!
This holiday card meditation is a way to turn bits of ephemeral paper and glitter into active happiness. It keeps our little lights shining through the next wintry months.
*"Praying My Greeting Cards" by Sister Karen Zielinski, OSF, in Nov-Dec 2010.