Sunday, November 28, 2010

...And a Buddha in a Pear Tree

c Tony Campbell/

It’s that holiday time of year again, and the battle lines are drawn. Wait a minute. This is Christmas, or Chanukah  (or some other festive, spiritual celebration) so why talk about battles? It’s just that every year when the frenzy begins (no later than the strike of midnight on Thanksgiving) I’m inevitably lured toward the misguided notion that I must get everything done by December 25th (and to perfection!) even down to the high-maintenance baked beans my mother used to make that take about six hours to prepare. Unfortunately, the intricate process of putting everything together for the holiday can seem more like a battle than a labor of love.
            Today, when I began ruminating about how many shopping days are left, and how I will get the package for my sister’s family to North Carolina on time, and whether there will be enough time to do all the gift-wrapping, cooking, and cleaning, I happened to glance out my home office window. And there, in a tree just a few feet away, sat a mourning dove. The dove wasn’t moving, other than an occasional ruffling of feathers and glance to the side, or a slight puffing of its belly (maybe doing some yogic pranayama?) but she seemed to carry an important message. Is it possible, I wondered, to approach this hectic, frenzied season as this mourning dove does? With ease, and confidence, and knowledge that it will all turn out all right, even if I just sit around puffing my feathers every day for a while?
            Of course, the dove doesn’t have to fly to the mall, or drive in Jersey traffic, or balance her check book, or shop for dinner for fourteen, or figure out what a longboard is and the best place to buy one (apparently, all the rage for getting to class at college). Nor does the dove have to bake cookies or pies from scratch, or orchestrate the Christmas meal so that a dozen dishes are done and piping hot at exactly the same moment. But these are my choices, and the choice of the dove is to sit in a (believe it or not) pear tree and soak up the winter sun.           
            I know that as the shopping days keep ticking away, I’m bound to get caught up in the hysteria as I always do, but this year I’m going to keep that plump, happy dove in my mind. Not that I necessarily want to look like her (though after all the Christmas cookies and pies I may), but I do want to emulate her sense of peace and calm. Yes, there are squirrels racing up the tree, leaping from branch to branch, hurling nuts, chasing each other’s tail, but the dove just sits there like a Buddha.
This holiday season, I’m going to try to be a bit more like her.  Let those shopping squirrels go crazy if they want, but I’m going to sit still and breathe!

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