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Searching for the spirit of the season? It may be closer than you realize

Rev. Percy McCray
We’ve all heard the phrase, “getting into the holiday spirit.” But have we stopped to consider what the spirit really is, and where it comes from?

By Rev. Percy McCray Jr.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “getting into the holiday spirit,” in one form or another. But have we stopped to consider what the spirit of the holiday season really is, and where that spirit comes from? Does it begin in November with turkey, pies, football and Black Friday shopping? Was it here before the pilgrims landed? Can it be found in a jewelry store and at a big-box TV and appliance dealer?

Maybe the spirit of the season comes from family time, sharing bountiful feasts, getting and giving gifts, and being friendly to perfect strangers on the street. When we boil down these activities and the feelings they stir, it seems that at its core, the spirit of the season may be all about the need for love, to love and to be loved. Perhaps the spirit is really about the tangible and palatable absorption of that often-elusive primordial human need: love.

The holiday season is the time to feel the power and energy of love in some capacity. It is a carrot that, for many of us, constantly dangles just beyond our grasp. Sure, we try to cook it, eat it, congregate around it, and yes, even buy our way to the joy it promises. But maybe there is only one true source for the love we seek. Whether we want to embrace it or not, at the core of the human soul is a life force that cannot be duplicated or replaced with well-intended gifts or material things. Peace, meaning, value and purpose can only be found through love.

So, amid managing global tensions and basic everyday living frustrations, while heading to your favorite market for the ingredients of a holiday feast, stop and take some time to look inward, to find strength, renewal and love by connecting to your spiritual base. Spirituality does not mean religion. So however you may identify with your spirituality, some helpful pathways to access a more intrinsic and abiding sense of love may be accomplished through:

Prayer: Take time to have simple and direct communication with your source of higher power.

Meditation: Be still and quiet your mind and consciousness. Clear out the cobwebs and shut down the noise. You may be surprised what you actually hear.

Sacred readings: Devotions, scriptures, poetry and inspirational writings may trigger a stream of consciousness that offers reassurance, tranquility, peace and forgiveness.

Music: Songs, rhythms, tones and vibrations may strike the inner chambers of your being, helping to shift your mood or disposition.

Outdoors and nature: There is an energy and a quiet presence in the woods, mountains and sky or on or near the water.

Random acts of kindness: Do something good for someone you have no connection or relationship with. The joy of releasing yourself to others for no gain is an amazing act of love that nurtures the human soul.

So, while attempting to catch or get into the spirit during this season of business and commerce, remember: Our search and need for loving and being loved may actually be found in some of the simplest of actions and practices. This holiday season, instead of saying, “charge it,” say, “change it.” Change your actions, traditions and approach to the season.

Learn more about how spiritual support may play a role in your cancer care.