To the New Light, Your New Life, Our New Year


When I was a young teenager, my quiet, steadfast stepfather gave me a lamp. Not an electric lamp, but one in which oil is the fuel and a wick provides the light. He attached a small note to the gift. It said, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” I knew he wasn’t speaking to me, rather quoting a verse from Psalms.

That lamp was precious to me. It took more effort to keep the wick trimmed and the oil basin filled, than turning on a light-switch. The slow burning of the trimmed wick gave me hours of soft light while conserving the oil. Those tasks became part of the ritual in which I allowed my thoughts and vision to go to my path. Eventually, that lamp lit my way to become a minister in the United Methodist Church.

While in seminary, I came across the More-with-Less Cookbook, compiled by Doris Janzen Longacre with contributions from the Mennonite Community. If I could have only one cookbook, that would be the one I’d choose. It contains the message and means to do more with less, kinda like a trimmed wick, more light, less oil.

With all the distractions, the bombardment of information from every direction, our zeal to keep up with the Jones’, schedules out the wazhoo, you’d think doing more with less would be a welcome notion. There’s more to do, more places to be, more money to make, more people to acknowledge, more hoops to jump through, more all around. So how to we do less?

It’s a double-edged sword. To do more with less we must be awake. Floating through life without venturing off to explore options is to do the same thing over and over with similar results. If you like the results, keep going. If not, a change is in order. It requires attention, but not muscle.

I often see couples working through how to do relationship differently than they have in the past. As children, they learn a set of motions and reactions to keep them safe and their parents as pleased as possible. Those actions become habit that gets repeated into adulthood without realizing there are choices. The old ways may not work so well any longer. For something different, they must awake to different possibilities. Doing more with less is one of them.

Waking up to notice ourselves in a new light is key to intelligent conservation of time, energy and resources. Recognizing how we are, what we need, what patterns take good care of us and which ones cause us suffering is one way of finding the more with less road. Rather than looking outward and guessing what others will think or do or want, looking inside to see what’s really going on with our internal family. Our individual self is a much smaller audience and really, the only place we possess the authority to act or change.

When we take a good wakeful look into ourselves, it’s like being in the driver’s seat rather than strapped in the back with a younger self at the wheel. You’re worth the endeavor.

One more “to do” on the unending list of unfinished projects, you say? Yes, well, that’s the other side of the sword. Waking up to even the smallest, softest glow bestows a light on a new path.

Today is the winter solstice, the returning of more light into our darkness. May you wake to your glorious life as we approach a new year. May longer light be a lamp unto your feet to see what works best for you. May you experience more of your life with less pain and suffering in this new light and new year.

Posted in acceptance, change, conflict resolution, coping with change, flexibility, inspiration, self-help, Successful relationships on 12/21/2017 07:21 pm

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