Wednesday, December 31, 2008

January 1 - The Eighth Holy Night - The Need for Beginnings

The day begins, the year begins, life begins, love begins ... everything begins.

The Holy Nights ask us to dwell in the mood of beginnings - between Nativity and Epiphany - the birth of the beginning and the revelation of the beginning. Both a birth and a revelation can be planned or can surprise us.

Our souls long for both beginnings - the births and revelations of our own self. Some new part of our soul is born. Some new aspect of our soul is revealed. By plan or by surprise.

Both gifts, the planned, and miracles, the surprises, live in the mystery of newness and beginning.

Here are a few verbs that indicate beginnings:


Can you define or distinguish each of these beginning gestures? How does your soul feel about each word? To what degree does your will demonstrate each verb? Do you begin with tremendous force or gentle quiet subtlety? We each have our own way and energy for beginning. Do you like beginning alone? Do you need the support of others to initiate a new thought, feeling or activity?

On New Year’s work with these verbs and the possibilities for your 2009. Write down 1-100 sentences using verbs from the list:

I will conceive_______________.

I will unveil_______________.

I will emerge________________.

and so on.

Have fun. Risk. Be profound. Be gentle. Be fierce. Put your heart into each statement. Amaze yourself.

Do any of the sentences make you feel agitated? Can you calm yourself and see if the possibility causes sweet arousal in your soul?

Think of new beginnings in your thinking soul, in your feeling soul and in your willing soul. Don’t think of change. Change feels like it requires hard effort, rather than soft engagement. Beginnings come from soft will. Think of willingness, rather than will power.

After spending time with these verbs and the image of soft will, reflect back on the beginnings of the past. Think of firsts - you will probably smile when you recall firsts, even the firsts that were painful. If you don’t smile, than you need to go back to last night’s work on grief. Grieving relieves pain and brings bittersweet compassion. There is always a smile in the bittersweet.

Here I offer my favorite verse by Rudolf Steiner. It's all about beginnings.

The soul’s questing is quickening.
The will’s deed is waxing.
And Life’s fruits grow ripe.

I feel my destiny.
My destiny finds me.
I feel my star.
My star finds me.
I feel my goals.
My goals find me.

My soul and the world are but one.

Life becomes brighter about me.
Life becomes harder for me.
Life becomes richer within me.

Let me share some thought on how this verse relates to beginnings in your soul.

Beginnings are quests. Quickening is the first sense of fetal movement in the mother’s womb. What soul quest is quickening in your soul for 2009?

The waxing moon is the growing moon on its way to fullness. What is emerging in your life that will bring fullness to your soul?

What you feel is what you birth. What finds you is revelation.

Beginnings bring brightness, intensity and expansion to your soul.

Journey forward into 2009 with blessed beginnings.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December 31-The Seventh Holy Night - The Need for Grief

We need grief, the little griefs, the medium griefs, and the great big griefs of life.

The great big griefs, the tsunamis of the soul, are not the griefs I want to explore in this message, although what is necessary about grief is true for griefs of all intensities.

I write about the small daily occurrences of grief - the forgotten appointments, the misunderstandings, the altered plans, the missed opportunities, the coulda’s, woulda’s, shoulda’s and the “if only’s”. These are all losses that we cannot retrieve. They are all little griefs. These minor sufferings cause us minor shock, minor anger, minor disorientation, minor reorganization, even minor loss of identity and connection. All these are aspects of grieving.

Rarely are we taught about grieving and its importance. It would be wonderful if as small children we were taught simple grieving rituals. I still feel grief over some events in my childhood. I let go of a balloon and it floated away. I lost a beloved cat on a family vacation. I lost a necklace that my godmother gave me. I lost a best friend when I was suddenly moved from my father’s home in Brooklyn to my mother’s home in Florida and never got to say goodbye and write down her address. My heart still aches because no one encouraged me to grieve. No one explained to me all my feelings were grief. No one suggested I create and follow a ritual that would allow me to revere my loss.

Everyday we experience loss and, instead of grieving, ignore or diminish our feelings. There is nothing foolish about grieving small losses. Yet, we feel foolish and cover up our truth with dysfunctional thoughts, feelings and behaviors. When I was sent to Florida, I was happily reunited with my little sister, but I fought horribly with my sister for months in my ignored state of grief. Even now, I can be irritable, sad or exhausted in the evening of a day when I misplaced something dear or a client missed an appointment - unacknowledged loss and ignored grief over something small.

A healthy soul grieves consciously. Tonight, the last night of 2008, honor your little losses over the last 365 days. Grieve sweetly and deeply. Imagine a grieving ritual for your little losses. If each night before you fell asleep you thought about the day’s losses, felt your grief, perhaps, journaled for five or ten minutes, your soul would awake the next morning more bright and open. Once a week, a month, a season, a year celebrate your losses. Embrace your grieving over little losses.

Grief resolves loss. Grief makes us ask deep questions. Grief allows us to find new meanings, new purposes, and new significances. Grief gives our hearts strength. Grief purifies corruptions and heals wounds. Grief points us in new directions. Grief liberates.

Grieving is the necessary response to loss. By responding to the loss we become responsible. Being responsible to losses removes the perception that we are victims. Life is seen as a ongoing cycle of which grieving is the ending of one cycle and the beginning of the next one.

Teach yourself to grieve everyday. Talk about little losses with your good friends. Especially, bring the meaning and process of grieving little losses to little children, particularly when they’ve let go of a balloon and watched it float away from their reach.

Then when you find yourself in the force of a great grieving tsunamis, your soul is strong and pliant. You will not drown.


Because of the economic crisis, many of us will lose aspects of our material existence to which we are attached. We will need to grieve our losses. Beyond the practical adjustments, let your soul attend to the grief in a sacred way. Honor the experience appropriately.

Monday, December 29, 2008

December 30-The Sixth Holy Night - The Need for Arousal

A calm soul seeks arousal. It wants to be awakened and turned on to life, to nature, to divinity, to others and to self.

Most of us read the word, arousal, and think of sexual arousal. Yes, arousal calls out for intimacy, for deep knowing and deep connection. Arousal is a heightened desire for fulfilling engagement of any kind - sexual, spiritual, intellectual, artistic, practical, playful. Sustained arousal supports commitment, loyalty, sacrifice and authenticity.

Arousal is the potential for being love. Physically arousal increases the beating of the the heart. Blood flows with more energy. Spiritually, a feeling of destiny appears. We feel embraced by the gods.

Arousal can seduce us if our soul is not calm. A calm soul experiences arousal consciously and harmoniously. Arousal awakens and directs your calm thinking, calm feeling and calm willing into the future. If you have a calm soul, you will be able to ask yourself, "Is my soul both calm and aroused?" Sadly, arousal can take over our consciousness and all self-questioning and objectivity disappear. Without calmness in the soul, arousal can become prejudice, addiction or fantasy.

Arousal births devotion in a calm soul. Arousal gives the calm soul such a vibrant, joyful sense of self-fulness that deeds become free of self-seeking and self-serving agendas. We are able to ask ourselves if truth, beauty and goodness are the cause and the result of the arousal.

In nature, arousal sensitizes us to the seed about germinate, the rain about to fall, the rabbit about to jump out from the bush. In divinity, arousal lets us see imaginations, hear inspirations, and act on intuitions. In a social context, arousal awakens us to the the heart of strangers and keeps us discovering new meanings in long-term relationships. In our own lives, arousal lets us see the paths we want to walk and the goals we want to achieve.

If arousal appears in an agitated soul, the impulses become selfish, obsessive, dangerous, even destructive. Arousal in an agitated soul is like an itch that cannot be soothed, an inflammation that can not be cooled or a thirst that cannot be quenched. It cannot be satisfied and come to an end. Remember the sounding of the word, calm, with the beginning, the middle and the ending.

The Hans Christian Anderson story, The Red Shoes, tells of a young girl who is deeply aroused by a pair of red shoes. She must wear them and in her vain need for the shoes, she neglects everything around her. The shoes are enchanted and will not stop dancing once they are on the girl’s feet nor can she remove them. After much suffering, she has the shoes and her feet chopped off and seeks the calm inner life she lacks. After much struggle, peace comes to her soul.

In my work as a counselor, I have listened to the despair of those whose souls can not be aroused. They do not feel alive. Their deeds are dutiful, but unfulfilling. Here, too, there is a need to calm the soul, first. Then, with patience and perseverance, a wisp of growing arousal can be found and warmed.

Tonight, look back over the year, or over your life, for the presence of arousal in your soul. What turns you on in ways that give you a strengthened sense of self? What new ideas, new feelings, new activities have you engaged in with enthusiasm? Seek the truth beauty and goodness living in each experience of arousal.

If you have feelings of arousal that cause you to lose your sense of self and lack real truth, beauty and goodness, why is your soul agitated? How can you calm your soul? The Holy Nights are a powerful time of year to ask that question. Just listen to your inner voice - not the screaming voice, the quiet one.

If arousal rarely appears and does not last, who can you ask to help you calm your soul and warm your interest?

Our calm souls require arousal. But arousal requires self-insight. When we can calm our souls and stimulate arousal consciously, we find true joy in our humanity.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

December 29 - The Fifth Holy Night - The Need for Calming

The Holy Nights provide your soul with spiritual calm. They soothe and comfort your soul. You drink in spiritual nourishment. You bathe in spiritual light. You find spiritual blessing. For twelve nights your soul breathing is deep and regular. Center your awareness on this spiritual peace.

Tonight, the Fifth Holy Night, look at a calm soul life.

Certainly in our very agitated times, our souls need constant calming. It is obvious. There are whole industries around creating calm - spas, yoga studios, retreat centers, books, CD’s and DVD’s. I am fairly certain that if you are subscribed to Inner Christmas, you are well aware of the need for calming. To attend to calming during the Holy Nights is quite meaningful and quite different from the seeking of calming activities during the rest of the cycle of the year.

Calm Soul, Poised Soul

A calm soul is poised between spirit and matter, and between inner life and outer life. The calm of the Holy Nights keeps us poised between the past and the future, between the known and the unknown. A calm soul feels composed, elegant and ready for what comes toward it from the future.

Agitation is the opposite of calm. An agitated soul is chaotic, distracted, irritable, edgy. Poise, composure and elegance are absent in an agitated soul. Agitation drives a soul to the extremes of too much and not enough. We get caught in thinking too much and doing too little or we are crazy busy and don’t really think clearly. Feelings roam from fire to ice. Our consciousness is slippery, not steady.

In overcoming agitation and establishing an inner calm, we find self-mastery. Do not resent your areas of agitation. Resentment is an agitated response. Rather calmly accept the experience and patiently transmute your energy in simple ways.

Words and Phrases for Calming

In the mysterious mood of the Holy Nights imagine calming words and calming phrases for a few minutes.

What are words that describe calm in your soul? Stillness, openness, gentleness, serenity. Write them down. Say them silently in your mind. How do you feel as each word finds its meaning in your heart? Say these words in a soft voice. Sound them out slowly and notice the feeling of each sound.

In the last four nights we have worked with nature, divinity, others and self. Look to these four for calming images and phrases. Sky, pond, breeze, rose. Being brushed by an angels wing. The gaze of a Renaissance Madonna. The Buddha's smile. The touch of my grandmother's fingers. Reading Emily Dickenson by myself. Write them down. Speak the phrases in a soft voice. See the images with soft eyes. The calm soul is soft.

Keep a list of these words and phrases. Add to the list during the year. Share your list with a good friend. Let these words and phrases keep you soft and calm. You might take crayons or colored pencils and write out these words and phrases. Put them in places that you see in the ordinary course of your day: on the bathroom mirror, on the kitchen cabinet, even as the screen saver on your computer desktop. When you see them speak them in your soft voice. Let them instill calm in your soul.

Sounding Calm

As a spoken word “calm” is extraordinarily calming. The sound that forms the word “calm” begins in the back of your mouth with a closing between the back of your tongue and your palette. It then it opens up in a rounding way to end with the gentle closing of your lips. To me the forming of the word, calm, creates a protected space in my mouth.

When your soul needs to be calmed, perhaps just slowly sounding the word “calm” and feeling that protected space in your mouth can be calming. The sounding of the word reminds or restores to consciousness stillness, grace, openness, gentleness and serenity.

The Holy Nights are like the word calm beginning with Nativity, allowing this sacred space for the renewal and the repurposing of our lives and closing with Epiphany. It is a time of holy calm.

Do you notice that calming requires will. In our modern agitating times, we must engage our will, our intention, to provide our soul with calming. But we must also bring our attention to that activity for the calming to be restorative. Many of us have developed self-soothing behaviors that are automatic, even addictive. These activities of will without thought do not offer restorative or “holy” calm.

Conscious activities require a balance between activity and thought. In the sounding of the word, calm there is a conscious willed beginning, a rounding fullness of doing and then a soft completion. The “k” sound at the back of the mouth takes a real force to make. The “ah” rolling with the “l” flows to the closing “m” sound. Calming activities take a conscious force to begin. They roll forward with a purposeful goal. The goal is achieved and the activity comes to a close. Calm is an active experience, not a passive one. Calm intention, calm attention, calm engagement and calm completion is the evidence of a calm soul.

Calming activities seek to bring beauty and harmony into being and into consciousness.

Calm in the Past and in the Future

What were the calming moments of last year? What were you doing that created the calm. How was your will engaged? What were your thoughts.

Think of the coming year. What imaginations fill your feeling life with holy calm? Do you have the calm will to take the needed actions? Do you have the calm thoughts to direct and sustain your attention?

Surrender your soul to the holy calm of the Holy Nights.

Please share you calming word, phrases and images by leaving a comment.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

December 28 - The Fourth Holy Night - The Need for Intimate Solitude

Covering over the Three Mirrors

Having spent the first three Holy Nights contemplating the three mirrors of the soul, it is now time to address the need to place a cover over the mirrors and experience intimate solitude.

When your “I” meets and embraces all the ways of being “I” without any distractions you become “all one.” Gloriously alone, you are in the blessed state of intimate solitude. The Holy Nights are the most favorable and supportive time of year for intimate solitude.

The great admonition, “O Human Soul, Know Thyself!” urges us to spend purposeful time in intimate solitude. This need for self-knowledge is not found reflected in the mirrors of nature, divinity or other human souls.

Of course, the path to intimate solitude requires us to spend much time gazing into the essential mirrors, studying our reflections. However, we will reach an inner truth that tells us these reflections are just reflections, images of who we are in particular contexts but not who we are at our core.

Nature reflects our soul's nature. We see ourselves as beings of nature. (so many of the Inner Christmas readers have made comments regarding what they love in nature, what are they declaring about their soul?)

Divinity reflects the kernel of the divine within your soul. (What does your feeling about divinity say about your sense of yourself as a being of spirit?)

Other souls reflect back to us our humanity, our selfishness and our unselfishness.

I am I - The Void

Tonight, let go of these reflections and find your self as self - I am I. Be the sun drawing back to its core all the sun rays. All the “I am ‘something’” statements you can make... I am my thoughts.... I am my feelings.... I am my intentions and deeds....I am my stories....I am my body and my biology...can only be stated by the I speaking about a small part of all the I is.

Create for your soul the state of intimate solitude. The Holy Nights are a time and a place to establish a state of consciousness where you release, avoid, ignore, or disappear all reflective identifications and images. Create a void in your soul. Usually a void will immediately call in some substance to fill it. For just the briefest moment attempt to hold the void. The void is the I that contains all the other I’s. Trust your angel, the guardian of your void, to help you in this experience. This may be only a fleeting sensation.

I am sure you know how to ride a bike, but the first time you tried to ride a bike without training wheels or your parent holding you up, you could only maintain your balance for a fleeting moment. But you kept trying. Keep trying for the experience of intimate solitude.

A Walk with I am I

Another exercise, perhaps easier, perhaps not: Your “I am I” invites one of your “I am 'something's” to go for an inner walk - a walk of intimate solitude - and have a conversation. Your “I am I,” innocent and full of wonder, wants to learn about and from the “I am ‘something’.” Tear up some strips of paper and write on each one an “I am” image. “I am my thought that_________.” I am too fat. I am a writer. I am my feeling of sadness. I am afraid of dying. Fold up each strip and put them in a bowl. Mix them up. Choose one. Now go for an inner walk of intimate solitude. Ask your “I am__________.” a question. Listen to the answer carefully with your heart. You will find self-knowledge in the answer.

After doing this exercise several times, I suggest you take “I am a self-judger” or “I am a self-critic” for an inner walk. Don’t be surprised if what you learn about this “I am”, brings tears or laughter.

The need for intimate solitude is the soul's need for self-knowledge. Meeting this need is a source of great joy, self-liberation, and tender wisdom.


A note of appreciation

I want to thank everyone for sharing their comments. You are enriching my experience of each need. They are truly beautiful. Lynn

Friday, December 26, 2008

December 27 - The Third Holy Night - The Need for Others


Our souls are mirrored by nature, by divinity and by others. Each day of our lives, our souls must seek these mirrors and gaze into them.

Our souls mirror nature, divinity and others. We must keep this mirror polished.


Tonight we contemplate our soul’s need for other human souls, the third mirror.

What are the three feelings we experience through others?
Sympathy, antipathy, and empathy.

Sym- means with. Anti- means against. Em- means in. We join with others, we push against others and we live in others and others live in us.

We need feelings of sympathy and antipathy to give us our sense of identity. We need empathy to give us a true sense of the other and to have those wonderful soul-enriching moments of forgetting ourselves, of pure unselfishness.

Just as the wheel of colors comes out of red, yellow and blue, all the colors of our social life come from the infinite mixtures of sympathy, antipathy and empathy.
Like colors, our social feelings of sympathy, antipathy and empathy have hues, values, and intensities. The hue of a social feeling reveals which of the three primary feelings is dominant when we experience the other. The value of a social feeling is the degree to which we are awake or sensitive to the mixture of feelings. The intensity of the social feeling is the degree to which this feeling saturates the experience of the other.


Choose a family member, a friend, a colleague, a character in a book, TV show or movie, and a public personality. With each one paint a portrait from your feelings of sympathy, antipathy and empathy. What do you like about them? What do you dislike? And finally, what do you just “get” about them? Consider the hue, value and intensity of your feelings for each of them.

Probably you will choose the others for which you feel mostly sympathy. We are always more comfortable with those we like. Take the risk to paint the feeling portrait of those you dislike.

When you paint with sympathy and antipathy you are actually painting "self " portraits as sympathy and antipathy are about what you are “with” and “against.” These "self" portraits teach you so much about your own soul life.

When you paint with empathy, you are painting a true image of the other. You see them without the veils of your own likes and dislikes. The empathy portraits take you to feelings that are new and different. They enrich and expand you soul.

Who has painted portraits of you? What other souls see you with sympathy? With antipathy? With empathy?

Throughout the year, pay attention to the feelings of sympathy, antipathy and empathy. Make it a practice to study your social life. This will keep your soul socially bright and clear.


There is one dreadful, painful social experience, but it is the proof of our need for others. There is nothing more painful or damaging, than disregard. When you are not reflected by another’s soul, when you find no mirror, you feel like you have fallen into the abyss of non-existence. It is like your soul cannot breathe.

In the coming year, do not let others fall into an abyss when they seek their reflection in your soul. See the other, no matter who they are, no matter what your social feelings. Keep your social mirror polished.


At the beginning of this message, I used the word “gaze.” What is the difference between looking and gazing?

Gazing is full of grace, yet to gaze at another or to be the object of another’s gaze often fills us with a sense of awkwardness. This awkwardness is self-consciousness. Gazing is easy when we gaze at infants and toddlers because they are not yet self-conscious. With babies, we lose our self-consciousness. Gazing is a deed of a soul that is free of self-consciousness.

Each of us is born anew every moment. At this time when we celebrate nativity, gaze from the part of your being that is newborn into the souls of others and find what is newborn in them. (I feel this is such an ensouling experience, I do gazing exercises when ever I give a talk or lead a workshop.)

If you are sharing this message with your partner or a dear friend, try gazing at each other for one minute. Let the awkwardness be there. Let steady, even breathing keep you present. Keep your eyes soft and your heart open.

If you are alone, find a mirror and gaze at your reflection. Soft eyes, open heart.

During the Holy Nights feel the gaze of the Spiritual World. Gaze back with love and courage.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

December 26 - The Second Holy Night - The Need for Divinity

Your soul needs to be certain of divinity.

Take a few still and soft moments to let the words “certain” and “divinity” bring their meaning to your consciousness. Don’t read any further until you have done this exercise.


Let me share some of the random thoughts that appeared in my soul while I was still and soft...

I find I cannot rely on my intellect to define either meaning. Both “certain” and “divinity” evoke feelings, not words, in my soul.

My feeling of “certain” is what my body feels when I am standing on firm earth on a beautiful day. The earth meets my arched foot with strength, supports the balanced uprightness of my entire skeleton and keeps my head floating atop my spine reaching up to the sky. All is unquestionably the way it is designed to be. My soul is certain when all feels radiantly right.

My feeling of “divinity” is a feeling of total illumination, of dwelling in pure light, a light that hallows all it shines on.

My soul seeks the hallowed design present in the object of its attention. I may be paying attention to what I experience as myself or what is not me. I may be paying attention to something small and immediate or something incomprehensibly huge and distant. With the divinity in my soul, I am able to feel the divine presence in what I observe. The divinity in my soul is the source of my attention.

My soul needs divinity in order to seek and to see, to suffer and to surrender, to know and to love. My soul needs Divinity in order to heal, to be free, to evolve and to resist. divinity inspires and empowers my “yes!” and my “no!”

My soul needs divinity in order to forget myself and know you.

It is the presence of divinity in my soul that lets me compassionately illuminate my life, my life’s surroundings and circumstances, and my life’s deeds and intentions.

Without divinity, my life would be a morally gray wasteland. I would not be able to see any design and my life would feel aimless.

My soul needs the light of divinity, the way my eyes need light to see.

On this second of the Twelve Holy Nights write down your feelings about certainty and divinity.

Try not to put a name on divinity. Stay with your feelings of and for divinity within your soul. Named divinities feel external to your soul.

If you find you must name divinity - Jesus Christ, Buddha, Allah, Yahweh, God, Brahma, or Gaia - here is a helpful exercise. Imagine the named divinity asking you what He or She feels like in your soul. What is your answer? Why does your soul need this divinity?

On the other hand, if you are someone who finds the naming of divinity too limiting, you might try this exercise. Right down all the names you know for divinity. There are many names. Now go through the list and describe what each name signifies, distinguishes and contains for you. I wrote down seven names in the previous paragraph. Each of the seven represents a different gesture of the divine to me.

If you have the time, do both exercises. You will find your soul’s light growing with this work. Even if you are very articulate about all matters divine, you’ve read all the sacred texts and all the works of great masters, these two exercises will take you in to your own soul and it’s own need for divinity. Do this with the innocence of Nativity. See what lives in your newborn heart.

Make a list of twelve aspects of divinity, such as love, truth, beauty, compassion, power, judgment, etc. For the coming year of twelve months, focus your inner work on one feeling each month.

Tonight open yourself up to the divinity in your soul.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

December 25 - The First Holy Night - The Need for Nature

On Christmas Night begin your Holy Nights contemplations with thoughts on your soul’s need for Nature. Whether you are a city dweller or a farmer, tonight celebrate your relationship to the natural world.

What do you think of when you contemplate Nature? Sky, sea, flowers, trees, animals, minerals, mountains, sunsets, breezes, bird songs. What activities come to your imagination? Erupting volcanoes, falling snow, germinating seeds, blossoming roses, soaring birds, crashing waves, leaping deer, dawning sun?

Nature is profoundly complex and utterly mystifying - just like your soul.

Nature soothes and terrifies - just like your soul.

Nature is of the Earth and declares the presence of the Divine - just like your soul.

Nature and your soul mirror each other. If you want to know your soul, study Nature. If you want to know Nature, study your soul.

Without Nature your soul suffers. Your soul hardens, dries up, crumbles.

Nature was created for your soul. Nature is the first source of art, science and religion. Every great soul has found inspiration, comfort and wisdom in the forces, gifts and nuances of Nature.

Now Nature looks to your soul to think deeply about her, to feel deeply for her and to act in protection of her. Does your soul realize this?

How much time do you devote to Nature? Enough time to meet the needs of your soul and the needs of Nature? What would be enough time? How could you give more time to the relationship between your soul and Nature?

As you reflect on your soul’s relationship to Nature, what comes to mind? Write down three memories of Nature from this year. Are these recollections of the vast expanses of Nature, or the tiny, breathtaking beauties she offers?

Imagine how you would like to engage with Nature this coming year? What new perspective or experience do you desire? Do you need to spend more time attending to Nature. Do you need to make scientific observations, fill a sketch pad with drawings of flowers, or create a nature altar?

Tonight wake up to your soul’s need for Nature.