Greetings, Kind Readers,
As you know, every once in a while I share some prose. Here’s the most recent work from my other site, thecatholicyogi.com that I thought was fitting for this site, too. I hope you enjoy.
Today is the second day of Advent, a holy season of anticipation, preparation, and by the end, we hope, a readiness.
It is easy to get caught in a whirlwind of perfectionism in which we strive to meet unrealistic expectations of our own making or those of others. It is even easier to strive and then compare ourselves and our families to everyone around us, including those halfway around the globe. Are my spiritual traditions better or worse than my neighbors’ traditions? Am I teaching my children less effectively, less ideally than my friend is teaching hers? The perfectionist/comparison trap yields only two results, both unwelcome: placing ourselves above others, or, putting ourselves below others. Tons of judgment.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali outline ten ethical principles, yamas and niyamas, or social and individual observances. One of the yamas that might help with this perfectionist/comparison trap is aparigraha, or the practice of non-attachment. This non-attachment extends to more than the material objects we surround ourselves with, but to all of our inner and outer experiences as well. We can become attached to anything and everything, such as the results of our hard work, or the outcome of situations and circumstances we struggle to orchestrate. This attachment is also described as a “hunger” or a “craving,” and we can crave the bad things as well as good. We can strive to have the most tastefully decorated house on the street, give the best gifts, host the most entertaining parties. At times we even hunger after noble things like becoming an excellent yogi, or a good Christian, or a Catholic saint.
While it is wonderful to have the passion and energy for virtuous pursuits, it does no one any good if we constantly judge ourselves as “not living up” and make every one of us miserable in the process! If we can practice letting go of our attachment to any particular outcome or result, we give ourselves a great gift of grace.
Perfection comes in the fullness of time. We can’t rush it or control it or demand it. All of us ripen at different stages and in different seasons, and none of us will reach perfection this side of death. But if we practice even a bit of non-attachment throughout this holy season, we might just find a contentment that feels like heaven. And not only will we have a more restful and happy spirit throughout the holidays, we will have souls ready to celebrate the birth of Christ, our Lord and Savior, through whom our perfection comes.
The inspiration for this post came at church the week before Thanksgiving. I picked up a copy of The Magnificat Advent Companion, a small book of blessings, daily scripture, reflections, and prayers, and inside the front cover I found a poem by Rita A. Simmonds. It is simple and profound. Enjoy.
Prepare a Christmas list.
Don’t tell lies about what you want.
and ax the dying tree,
watch it crash in the snow
leaving behind brown and green needles both.
Clear the cupboard of expired soups and noodles
stiff marshmallows never melted,
and give away
the fresh box of cereal
the olives and canned tomatoes
flour, salt and sugar.
Don’t stuff a turkey
that’s already stuffed.
Make room in the refrigerator
for fresh fruit.
Clear your closets.
Give away blankets and boots
jackets and gloves
that no one has worn.
Confess the cobwebs
have kept and ignored.
May we all be blessed with holy simplicity this Advent season.
The Catholic Yogi
*All photos via google images.
Thank you for this! I have been struggling with wanting to live a simple life and holding on to old cravings…and your post reminded me that I am not alone in this struggle, that it’s really quite human actually. The poem gave me chills…did she write this about me? I just threw away old medicine and food last week, and have been sorting through clothes that need a new home. Thank you for this timely and poignant post. Namaste, friend, and a blessed advent.
Thank you so much for reading and for your lovely comments. I, too, am so heartened by knowing I am not alone in the many struggles we face. I have been “cleaning out” since summer, but find the stuff is never-ending. Rita A Simmonds’ poem is giving me a new inspiration. I will dig deeper! Many blessings to you, too!
It’s funny how once you get started sorting through your things you discover how much you have…how much you never use, how much you can give away. It’s an exercise in abundance and simplifying–and it needs to be done often because it is so easy to slip back into hoarding mode! Good luck to you with your sorting and may you stay inspired always. ❤
I’m better for having read this!
I’m better for having written it 😉 I’m always surprised by what connections I find once I sit down to write something out. Of course, it’s not me that’s finding connections, but God who’s revealing them. Now if I could just live it!
I love this! It’s beautiful! Thank you, I needed it! And I owe you an email/phone call too!
Hope all is well! Annette
Sent from my iPhone
Love you, friend! So thankful for your reading and kind words… happy advent !
This is a wonderful post for Advent or anytime of year. Non-attachment brings us closer to our poverty so we may fill with Christ. Simplifying can be so complicated! I love the dialogue above. Here’s to the ongoing struggle of giving more, holding less. Thank you dear friend for your beautiful post, wisdom, insight and love. The poem is so generous. A blessed Advent for you and your family!! Love and light your way always!!!!XOXOXO
Thank you, friend! Slowing down helps this complicated work of letting go and giving and receiving. Slowing down is good work for Advent and for any season. I’m blessed by your reading and comments!