Six years ago I sat in the hospice by the bedside of my mother in the last days of her life. As I sat, I looked out the window into the cold, crisp air where birds were singing, a couple walked hand-in-hand, maybe in love, children laughed and played in the daycare across the street, and the sun set. The full catastrophe, as Jon Kabat Zinn’s book title describes life in all it’s fullness, it’s pain and joy, not excluding anything.
As we enter the Christmas season, we often think “How can I enjoy when so many in the world are suffering?”. This is the present full catastrophe… the joy and the suffering, in all of humanity, in all of us. Resist nothing, accept all. We spend a lot of energy either avoiding pain or attaching to pleasure until it passes. What does it feel like to recognize that life includes it all? In order to appreciate the good, there must be some contrast, some experience of not-so-good. Recognizing and working to alleviate suffering beats avoiding, and noticing pleasures as a wonderful temporary experience makes it all so much more vivid. People hurt, people love, people bring us joy and people let us down. Avoidance is futile 🙂
I encourage you to be present with it all as a participant of the full catastrophe of life.