Archive for ‘December, 2011’

Occupy My Holiday

“Occupy My Holiday” Photo Collage – a concept icon / prayer reminder

I feel a bit awkward writing an article when my soul practices are often wobbly, but here I am again with a story:

A few days ago I complained aloud to my girlfriend, Holly, “So I want to embody creativity and joy in my days, and especially the holidays– not spew out grouchiness and stress.  I want to gladly offer my life-giving work, art, and the new Yoga Wisdom Cards— not make icky sales pitches.  And I want to trust the truth of abundance when I feel scarcity– not slide into fear.  Ok, for real…  How is that ACTUALLY possible in this economic and cultural mess?”

Since she’s practiced in her own versions of these themes, she answered wisely: “That’s the real question we’re here for, now isn’t it.”  (She’s amazing.)

Yep, we’re here for the dance between what is and what’s being born this Advent season.  So Holly and I talked together about hope and true resources until we felt God’s presence and the sacred ground under our feet again.  But less than an hour later I slipped back toward fear and my compulsive worries.  (Sigh.)

Not long after, however, I saw a video news clip on new efforts in the Occupy Movement to camp out on the lawns of people in danger of forcible foreclosure eviction.  When the parks were closed to their protest encampments, these insistent, brave and resilient young people in Atlanta and Cleveland found a new way to live out their message on the ground with their neighbors.  I cried, seeing Jesus-like solidarity and real-life compassion in action.  For the hundredth time, I asked Spirit to teach me my part in the movement.

Ten minutes later, out on a run, I heard the Spirit’s reply in my heart: “Occupy your holiday.”  Yep.  It might sound cheesy, I know– but right away I felt it was a call to get more serious about making counter-cultural choices in the holiday season.  I heard a deep invitation to put my mind, body and spirit where my mouth is, the way the Occupiers put their tents where the trouble is.  In years past, it’s been nice to try to live spaciously sometimes during Christmas, to spend less and shop local, to focus a little more on relationships than events and accomplishments.  I’m glad for the practice.  But this year, it’s clear that the values I admire in the best of the Occupy movement ask me to go further.  Although the protests are controversial, we know it’s beyond time to revolutionize our culture away from greed and speed.  The “Occupy your holiday” message to my heart made it clear: change starts with me, right now, at the height of the frenzy.

So I’ve started protesting within– against my over-crowded schedule, my temptation to shortcut, habitual assumptions, and addiction to worry.  Rather than despair about TV politics or what I can’t do, I’m taking a stronger stand to occupy my daily life and the holidays with a commitment to radical presence.  This means really showing up– awake, aware and creative– in my heart, with my neighbors, for my friends and family, on this amazing planet.  I’m not yet living in a tent outwardly (the photo collage here is a concept icon), but I want to be that grounded and distilled down to the essentials in my soul. Already I can tell that the top “demands” of this kind of occupy practice for me are: to explore and offer my real work, honor my budget and also abundance, make a reasonable schedule, risk a balance of rest and play, hone my gift-giving, stretch to serve others, and surrender into trust– over and over again, as best I can and can’t.

Simply put, to transform the 99 and 1% into a thriving 100%, I choose to be more fiercely dedicated to simplicity, generosity, beauty and community.  I’ll fail, I’ll learn, I’ll grow.  And then when I feel the nudges to follow compassion into action, I’ll more likely know it and go.

Melanie  12-7-11


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