A Reflection for Your Holiday Walk
A Reflection for Your Holiday Walk

A Reflection for Your Holiday Walk

Welcome back to Restorative Grief with Mandy Capehart. You are listening to episode 62 titled, “A Reflection for Your Holiday Walk.” It’s a major holiday in the US today, and whether or not you celebrate the season, you can listen to the episode today with an open heart, mind, and spirit toward connection and restoration. This month and the coming new year are often so full of expectation and pressure that we fail to carve the space we need to experience wholeness. I hope my short essay for today can become a starting point for you to pursue what feels good and right and lovely for yourself.

As I mentioned before, it is my hope that you are making space for yourself. Take a moment to pause with me. Before you cut the next vegetable, move the next basket of laundry, or return the next text message, let’s decide if this is a moment you can go for a brisk walk. And if walking isn’t an option for you, is this a moment you can close a door? Is this a moment that you can hide in a restroom and wait for however long this episode takes?

If you’re not able to pause on your current task, that’s okay. But with that in mind, let’s lean into a sacred space of curiosity. As you know, today is one loaded with expectations and responsibilities. In the heart of traditions, we will often compromise our own needs and wants for the overall peace of the season – even if that sacrifice brings something that feels nothing like peace to us.

There are so many demands on our health right now – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And because we feel the need to honor tradition, we find ways to justify our own discomfort for the sake of the group. But today, we’re going to explore the gift of something new.

After today, we will embark upon that week between Christmas and the new year, when time seems floaty and most people check out. It’s reasonable; the rush and pressure ramping up to these big holiday celebrations are tiresome. They exhaust our reserves and occasionally place us in tense conversations or circumstances we just don’t know how to navigate.

So this is where we are going to decide to set a different path before us. Literally taking a walk to do this exercise is great, because your brain and body are connected, my friends. Walking while setting your mind to take a new metaphorical path will reinforce the power of your decision.

But whether you’re walking or not, consider this: What expectations do YOU have for today? For the last week of the year? What are you carrying in your own grief experience right now that might feel bigger or louder now that the holiday is here? At the end of today, or the end of this year, what would you like to look back upon and see? What would peace in this season mean or feel like to you?

Please don’t feel like you need an answer to all of these questions, or a clear path forward by the time you’re done listening. While I could offer a tool for you to sort these ideas, I’d rather just read you something meaningful for me that may help you feel a little bit more peace right now, even as your thoughts are swirling about what peace could mean for you.

This passage I’m about to share is from a book of blessings called “To Bless the Space Between Us” by the late Irish teacher and poet John O’Donohue. Whether or not you find yourself to be a spiritual or religious person, this poem is meant to invite you deeper into the reckoning of the tension of the in-between. Whether your in-between includes actively grieving or reckoning with old wounds as they arise, I hope you’ll allow these words to stir peace within. This piece is called “At The End of the Year.”

“The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline’s longing
With such brief harvest
of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.”

John O’Donohue, “At the End of the Year” from To Bless the Space Between Us

Thank you for listening to episode 62 of Restorative Grief. I wish I could say more about what the future holds for us but that’s the conflict of hope – we are hoping in what we cannot see. In grief work, we are wrestling with the nuance between what was, what is, and what is to come. The unknown and uncontrollable nature of impermanence challenges us to embrace the moment of our lives that we find ourselves within, even when the waves bring both salt to our wounds and relief to our aching spirits. As we wrap this year, I want to thank you again for continuing to learn and navigate your own grief stories with me and this little community of courageous hearts. It’s no small thing to continually face your pain with confidence and curiosity – even if that confidence wanes to nearly immeasurable levels. I’m so grateful to hear your stories – and I want to invite you to join our little podcast and coaching community over on Facebook. You can join the Restorative Grief Project to learn more about yourself, gain some grief literacy, and continue to flesh out the healing path you’re walking. Please remember as well to take a moment and leave a holiday gift for me, too, in the form of a five star review wherever you listen to podcasts. It would make my whole year!

And one last thing, before we go. Please remember, the only solution for grief is to do the work of grieving. Thank you for listening. I’ll see you next week and next year.

Links + Resources from this episode: