(published Dec 27th through my newsletter)
This was certainly one of the simplest (and richest) Christmases I’ve ever had.
I was Scamping up in the high desert, far out beyond cell service. It was a wild spot with golden coyotes roaming by and jackrabbits bouncing in and out of the brush.
On a hike on Christmas Day I saw the cloven tracks of mountain goats in the muddy earth winding around boulders up, up, up the slope… and further into protected wild land.
It was so still that when a single shiny black crow cruised through, just one caw struck through the silence and hung in the air for much longer than its actual sound.
With no running water and no oven, there were no Christmas cookies or hot baths. With no mailbox, there were no packages. With no electricity, there was no tree with twinkling lights.
But there were pinkish, bluish, pearly rocks to gather and admire. There were great roaming cloud formations rimmed by the orange sun. I made apple crisp in an outdoor fire which I ate too much of on Christmas Eve, resulting in a belly ache.
And of course, there was a wide dark sky splattered with glittering stars.
It was all so simple.
With the early sunset, by 5pm, it got dark. At nighttime I only light candles in the Scamp. By 9pm it makes no sense to be awake any longer. So over the long solstice weekend, into the holiday, there was plenty of uninterrupted sleep.
A friend was with me, someone who has spent plenty of time studying the Truth of things, shooting for the moon and landing amongst the stars, letting go of the “shoulds” in favor of This. Just This.
So together we were struck by the magic in a pebble or the beauty in the charred black trunk of a burned Joshua tree.
Christmas morning, making oatmeal on the fire and drinking coffee wearing a blanket like a dress in the sun, I imagined all the families, all the treats, all the gifts being opened out there across the country… and I felt sweetness for all of that.
But then I also heard the same refrain I hear myself saying over and over again… it’s not what you look at, it’s how you see. It’s not what you get, it’s what you already have (the stuff that can never be taken away… the stuff of perception).
I couldn’t imagine a gift that might surpass the perfect simplicity of the wilderness of the high desert on Christmas.
It doesn’t interest me to bend anyone’s mind to meet my own opinions or priorities, so if this doesn’t make sense, wad it up and toss it in the garbage!
But if you wish, I invite you to notice how whole you are while gazing up at the barren branches of a wintry tree. Or while resting your cheek against your warm companion in bed. Or while catching the last shock of light just before the sun sets… feel your richness in the simplicity of Just This.
So anyway, the next day, a massive Christmas treat rolled in…
The most unexpected snowstorm hit this place and it became a gosh-darn winter wonderland! Check out Scampy in the snow above! Scampy loves the snow, and so does Ariel.
Warmest wishes to you for all the joy and riches found in utter simplicity,
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