A number of people I love are in pain--emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual. I hate it!!  I want to fix it. It seems to be a natural impulse for me to want to do something--anything--to reduce pain of those I love.

But that can be a problem. Most of the time I can't fix it!! Pain seems to be uniquely individual. Each of us experience it in our own way. The only way we can get beyond it is to go through it. We can try to avoid it, but mostly it comes back, sooner or later and has to be dealt with.

Now one of the problems with my wanting to fix the situation that creates pain for others is that, since I mostly can do nothing to fix it, I am tempted to avoid people in pain.  It is frustrating to feel like I should fix the problem and not have the ability to actually do that.  I feel helpless. In order to avoid frustration, I may be tempted at times to just crawl into the safety of my own world and not show up in the lives of those who hurt.

But, I know from my own experience of pain that having people accompany me in my pain can be helpful. The presence of people who know me and who care for me is really important.  It is important when they come along side of me and walk with me in that pain.  I know that others can't fix the problem and move life back before the painful experience occurred, but it helps me carry my pain when others hold it with me.

And the presence that is most helpful is that which comes gently into my space. Those who try to insist that they have to be with me may be helpful at times, but the most helpful people are those who are near by, waiting and ready when I feel the need to reach out.  It is those who remind me from time to time that they are available. It is those who email, who send a card, who phone.  Just a reminder of their potential presence.

So, if you know someone who is hurting--don't avoid them just because you feel helpless to fix their problem. Respect them enough to allow them to have their own pain, but love them enough to be willing to share time with them when they desire it.


Holidays are times when vitality can be deeply experienced.  But for that to happen, we have to watch that frozen moments don't steal the energy.

Holidays are such opportunities because vitality is intensified when three ways of experiencing life merge.

Memory is central to living.  Memories are experiences we hang on to and use to make meaning in life.  What we remember and how we weave together those remembrances help us know where we came from and who we are.  Memories are fluid and constantly flow along, collecting new experiences to reshape our self-understanding.  Holidays are filled with memories.

But, sometimes memories get frozen.  Sometimes we cling so desperately to the faded summer that memories can become a prison.  We get locked into the past that we created in our minds and can't be open to the present that is our life now.

Presence is also a powerful force in a vital life.  Holidays are filled with presence.  They are filled with food and music, with parties and people. Holiday experiences are focused occasions when we embrace the physical things around us,  We are sometimes overwhelmed.  All these come together to create experiences that help us know where we are and who we are.

But, sometimes we can be so immersed in the present that we lose track of yesterday's gifts.  We lose touch with the rich soil of the past that make the present possible.  Prayer is a pause that invites us to keep in touch with the long-view--to not be so absorbed by the moment that we lose its meaning for our lives. 

Vitality in life is also enhanced when anticipation is present.  Each moment leans forward.  The future and how we imagine it gives energy to our lives.  Holidays are times when we prepare and anticipate, dreaming of what is possible and working to make our dreams come true.

But, sometimes we are so driven by our need to fill that future with our vision that we miss the gifts that come as a surprise.  We don't see gifts of grace because we are frozen by our image of what grace ought to be.  We are so busy making the future look like what we think it should that we don't allow ourselves to experience the presence of love in the moment.  We are so consumed by activity to fill the future that the soil of our past can't hold us and give us a place of rest and peace.

Memory, presence and anticipation--all important parts of being alive.  Allow them to flow together during the holiday time.  Rest in good memories, embrace present moments, anticipate gifts of tomorrow.  Let them all flow together to enrich your holiday.