The Gifts of 2014

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Course Ideas / Creative

This post is part of a series of posts written by several bloggers in answer to the Blog Challenge hosted by Linda Litebeing, and I thought it would be a great way to look back upon the last year.  The warmth of the holiday season has provided a nice envelope of peace and cheer from which to reflect on a year that, as Linda pointed out in her invitation, has not been without challenges.  And yet so often it is these challenges that do bring the greatest blessings…

What lessons did you learn?

Since discovering A Course of Love I have been drawn to the notion that the function of all learning is to bring about authentic knowledge of who we are, of our true identity.  Once this is known, not as a concept or as a belief, but as knowledge itself backed by experience, then the need for learning is complete.  We are released of our conceptual cages, freed to be who we are without conflict or division.  Not because we are perfect, or better in any way than we once were, or than anyone else, but because our identity finally rests on truth.

This year has brought me many experiences where I have noted the pattern and conditions of learning recreated in my life– circumstances that have triggered sensations of lack or incompleteness, of doubt and uncertainty, of frustration and desire for some form of accomplishment or another.  As the calendar year winds down, however, I am also seeing the beauty in this process, and noting how such circumstances have indeed brought about a deeper appreciation for who I am, and who we all are.  Learning is always perfect and profound, while it is needed.  And it is needed so long as I maintain a concept of myself, an ideal against which to compare, a vision for myself to attain through devotion or service of some sort.

I have witnessed the conflict and discontent within myself, and sensed the ways in which it is softening through the path of experience.  I think the greatest lesson I take away from this past year is a greater acceptance of who I am, less the world, and of the circumstances in which I find myself.  I feel as though I am leaving 2014 with the realization that so long as learning is required– so long as I cling to a particular concept or brand of fear– there is nowhere I need go but where I am to work with it.  Things are splendidly okay, even when they’re not.  So many games of chicken with our fate compel us to seek out something else, and I am thankful to have come full circle without moving, to discover beautiful inklings of the depth and purpose all around me.

How did you serve others?

This can be a loaded question can’t it!?  It can take me right to the heart of a question some of us grapple with during the time and conditions of learning: am I doing enough?  Should I be doing something more?  Shouldn’t I be spending more time doing x, y, or z?  Couldn’t I be making more of a difference?  Several of the other participants in this challenge whose entries I have read have made reference to the idea that their greatest service has been in allowing themselves to be who they are– the idea being that the daily practice of offering the gift of our time or presence to others, precisely where we are at, is truly a service.

This really resonates with me, as I am realizing that anything we do that comes from a notion of what we should be doing will lack the essential ingredient, and anything that is truly offered from the depth of our being has the capacity to resonate profoundly with others.  The opportunities have been all around me this year, as due to challenging times we’ve had extended family living with us to varying degrees throughout the year.  I’ve driven kids to soccer games, helped with homework, cooked meals, and most importantly, been able to deepen relationships by sharing and creating space for those who’ve needed it.

What blessings did you receive?

I’ve touched on a few above.  Realizations about ourselves and our internal obstacles or resistances to love are always blessings, as are opportunities to deepen relationships with those around us.  My wife’s recognition of who I am, and support, is an ongoing blessing that spans far beyond the time it takes our little planet to circumnavigate our nearest star.  In addition, through blogging I’ve been brought into contact with some amazing and passionate people, and it has enriched my life considerably.

(I was also gifted a sample pack of Liga Privada cigars and Thomas Pynchon’s novel Against the Day.  Blessings come in many forms.)

Was there something you lost that turned out to be a blessing in disguise?

Leaving the obvious aside– e.g. my mind– the loss of a professional comfort zone left the ground feeling wobbly underneath me, but brought to light various fears and sources of discontentment that had been idling within me in a manner that allowed to me process them in my own time.  Likewise the inclusion of more family members in our home on a regular basis has also brought various changes in the status quo, such as losses in refrigerator space, limited access to clean drinking glasses, a strange curtailing of the quiet, inadequate space for both cars and snow banks, and of course a contraction of time itself, but these shifts were all rendered moot by the unexpected gifts of being part of more lives in an increasingly meaningful way.

 Did you receive any “gifts” in terms of powers or skills?

No.  🙂

I did, however, set a new personal best by making an order of chorizo nachos disappear in under five minutes.  And I wrote a lot more poetry than in any previous year of my life.

* * * * *

Linda is up next with tomorrow’s entry.  Happy Reflection Times to all.

26 Comments

  1. Many thanks for all of your wonderful contributions to my reading in 2014 Michael.

    Here’s wishing you a holiday season full of contentedness, if not clean drinking glasses.

    Hariod. ❤

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  2. Hi Michael,
    I absolutely enjoyed your post and as a former ACIM student, most of your answers resonated with me through that lens. I am so glad you decided to join the litebeing chronicles blogging challenge. This year’s theme was informed by the particular tone of this year and how gratitude is more important than ever. I look forward to knowing you more though your blog as we are not well acquainted. Your willingness to jump in and fill a gap in the schedule speaks volumes about your kindness.

    Blessings for this season and 2015,
    Linda

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    • Thank you, Linda. You’re right about the importance of gratitude when faced with difficulties. I find that when I’m not grateful I’m asking “why?” something is happening, and when I’m able to see more fully, the “why?” vanishes and is replaced with gratitude. It is a natural response to seeing things as they truly are, I think.

      I’m glad to have participated, look forward to reading more of the others, and of reading more of your own site as well.

      Blessings to you as well,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I need some of that contentment coolaid you two are drinking! 🙂 Meanwhile, I appreciate your unique views on life Michael, and believe that you are helping me work my way closer to knowing my own self and truth.
    Regardless, thanks for sharing your heart and wisdom. Holidays blessings to you and yours, Brad

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    • Happy Holidays, Brad! Thanks for the kind words. We are each giving to the other, it would seem, for our conversations always bring warmth and peace… As to that coolaid, since we’re all contentment itself in powdered mix form, you just have to dissolve yourself in a pool of your own consciousness. Nothing else will quite do. It’s a little bit picky in that regard.

      Wishing you Peace,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Michael for your wonderful presence in my life, for the gift of your poetry, of your pure soul, of your honesty, of the joyous and unique way you string words together that move me to a recognition of the truth every time.
    Wishing you and your family much joy for the holiday season and the coming year.
    Alison

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    • A heartfelt thank you Alison. Hope you and Don are enjoying the holiday season wherever it finds you. I look forward to the time-delayed recap! Aside from the obvious enjoyment I have found in reading about you and Don’s travels, and the wonderful photography you repeatedly serve up, it is your writing and the windows you have provided into your own journey that have been the most wonderful of gifts given all year. We can learn so much from one another, and I feel blessed to have found such joke-ready, vulnerable, rich-at-the-center, kindred spirits.

      Much Love,
      Michael

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  5. Dear Michael,

    I am so grateful for your honest sharing and your passion. I really enjoyed your poems too this year. Amazingly, they usually leave me silent, a rare response from the usual Miss Wordy Pants that I tend to be. 🙂

    We’ve had some parallel challenges this year. Family and job especially have been challenging for me. But, as you say, the gift of support from loved ones, friends and even friendships here, is truly priceless. My WP friends help in uncountable ways to participate more deeply with others, something that has been difficult for me in the past. I am very grateful to you for all the time and passion spent in our ongoing dialogues. I continue to broaden my perspective by hearing the ways you express yourself. Thank you.

    Happy Holidays and best wishes in the New Year.
    Love,
    Debra

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    • Likewise, Debra. I truly value our dialogues and they help in countless ways to expand and clarify my understanding. We come at things from different starting points– of course– but one thing I’ve realized is that our paths have each been fueled by inner challenges, and the solid footings we have reached by working our paths and experiences are hallowed grounds. The challenge then is to bridge between these points, or to continue moving to view them with fresh eyes in order that we might share them as completely as possible. There is great admiration on my part for what you share and offer, which inspires me to want to learn and share all the more.

      Happy Holidays to you as well!
      Michael

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  6. A delightful account of your year michael, isn’t it wonderful opening up to all of ourself and expressing through our blog and poems who we truly are and how we feel… Here’s to more abundance in 2015… Barbara

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    • Thanks, Barbara! Yes it feels good to express and share. To be heard and to witness both. I echo your sentiments for 2015!

      Michael

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  7. Hello Michael,
    This was delightful to read! You put things into words in such a beautiful way. Btw, “embracing forever” is pretty cool.

    Cheers to 2015! and everyone in your world! Glad to meet you this year-end.

    Sincerely,
    Ka

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    • Likewise, Ka. I’m happy to have found my way to your star party. Thank you for the kind words and for taking the time to do a bit of exploring here.

      Have a great New Year’s!
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Michael,

        I quickly found out that it’s not just my party, but that was what I was hoping for anyways… 🙂

        You are welcome! Thank you for following my blog and making the connection. I’m following yours now, too!

        xxKa

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  8. wonderful post. i’m glad the lovely linda had this idea…2014 was a big year for many of us, and i’m enjoying reading fellow wordpresser’s reflections. thank you! aleya

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    • Thanks, Aleya. I’m glad she did, too. I was just thinking today what a responsibility that was to take on– checking in on all the bloggers, filling all the slots, etc. I’m glad I found my way over there and opted to participate as well. Such a lovely flotilla of beings drifting along in this WordPress Wonderland!

      Blessings and Peace
      Michael

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      • i was thinking the same thing about the responsibility these challenges require. i participated in one last year and it really made me appreciate my own journey on a deeper level. it’s wonderful to have these spaces to share, and the lovely ppl to facilitate that! thanks again, aleya (and ps, i love the world ‘flotilla’!)

        Like

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