Merry Christmas

Crestline morning

When I was little, my Dad used to ask me, "Are you feeling mad, sad, glad, or plaid?" I always said "Plaid," which meant, of course, that I couldn't pick just one thing to feel. I felt it all.

Emily will tell you that nothing's changed. 

Have you seen that bumper sticker--"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention"? I agree. There are so many things to be outraged about. And I'm sure you could tell me about even more. And if we wanted, we could list them all--just today's flavors!--here together.

This photo was taken out my living room window yesterday morning. I feel a deep sense of well-being looking at it again today. The "plaid" means for me now that there are stripes of outrage, loss, and incredulity, but they're woven with stripes of a "peace that passes understanding." If I really want to LIVE this life, I've got to sign up for all of it. They go together.

The Happiest Man in the World (though he hates that title), a Buddhist monk named Matthieu Ricard, says part of the secret to being happy is embracing sadness. Don't you just love that? Happiness (which is a popular and distinct pursuit these days) isn't about creating the perfect life. Because even if you do, sadness will find you. And if you don't open the door for that guest, you can't be hospitable to the others.

At this moment, about to begin Christmas vacation with my family, our move finally over, and some good work waiting in the wings, I'm not feeling the outrage. I'm feeling the gratitude that favorite poet Jane Kenyon talks about. Forgive me if I've shared this poem with you before. It's part of me, so I probably have.

Friends, it could all be Otherwise. May you find contentment and purpose whatever your circumstances this Christmas. Deep peace to you.

Love Sarah.


I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table wtih silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.