So my mind continues to reflect on the Christmas Eve service I attended just a couple weeks back.  Following the service I was talking with a friend regarding the sermon.  My friend mentioned it was difficult to take in the sermon, as they do not present themselves as part of the Christian religion.  It got me really thinking about how we identify, and how much our lives could be impacted, if we were willing to pull back the lens on our life.

As a photography geek, pulling back the lens on a camera tends to widen the view, making it less pin-point specific. In the past I have written on different religious ceremonies that I have attended, and there was feedback regarding them.  My audience is primarily Christian, one reader announced, so why write about an experience with the Hare Krishna center?  But, here is how my mind hears all things spiritual – from a pulled back lens.  You see, I don’t need to hear any particular names to identify with acts of love, or concepts of growth.  I don’t need to be satiated by tradition in order to feel at peace with new concepts.  When I listen, I hear from a place of openness for all; from the Source of love.

I hear others speaking about how they don’t want to decorate a tree, or fill their homes with red and green, because they don’t want to give into the commercialism of Christmas.  But, when I asked this dear friend – Do you believe in celebrating compassion? Or the uniting of community? Or more people opening their hearts to kindness and giving? This friend said, “Yes.” Well then, why can’t the star on your adorned holiday tree be a representation of that?  Why can’t the calming ease of holiday lights be a calling within yourself to be conscious of the kindness we bestow on others? After all, when we pull back the lens, isn’t that part of what the holiday is about in a more generalized way?  And honestly, who cares if someone passing by thinks you’re a holiday “sell-out?” Do the lights make you reflect on your internal source of love? Which is truly more important in the grand scheme of your life?

So, why write about this now?  Because I feel allowing yourself a new perspective on these ideas might allow you a year more filled with what actually fills your spirit.  Not just your Christmas spirit, but your very soul that lives within you each and every day.  What are you allowing to keep you from sources of joy, just because of the detailed label that lives on it? What have you concluded to be for others, but not for you?

In all honesty, how do we really grow if we don’t allow new concepts in?  Or if we don’t, at the very least, challenge the very concepts that we adorn as truths to build our lives around?  I understand the beauty of traditions; this is not to mar or minimize them; in fact, the more we understand the whole, the more powerful, I feel, our traditions reverberate within us because we’ve drawn them into our truth even more.

Pulling back the lens on what life has to offer makes us more available to witness the beauty of what exists around us.  If we are truly ones who appreciate compassion, then what better way, than actually embrace our diversity, is there?  Finding what deeper attributes link us as human beings can only allow us to be more open to the graces of life.  So, how can you challenge these shut-downs within yourself?  As a studier of beliefs, I assure you, a genuine shut-down of the mind can happen within us when we no longer feel safe.  But, this too is simply a learned response.  If we can reframe for ourselves that our openness is what makes us more invigorated, or even, inundated within our truths, and that is how we rise to grow in the eyes of humanity.  What if we believed that, instead?  What might change in your life if you allowed yourself to belief that?

So, I challenge all of us to pull back the lens on life’s experiences that don’t find you with familiar words or movement.  Pull back the lens on individuals who look differently than you, or believe differently than you.  Pull back the lens on who you are, and what you are capable of.  Pull back the lens on life, so that we can feel the world around us, without a shut down.  Allow yourself to be overtaken by curiosity, as you hear life speak of love, and wisdom, no matter where it is coming from.

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