“What if holiday (Christmas), he thought,
doesn’t come from a store. What if holiday
a little bit more!”
~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Oooo…it is one of my favorite holidays. I love this time of year. Although December is a difficult time for I lost my mother in December and my brother was very ill. Yet it is the season of joy and togetherness. Last year I was able to go home to Colorado and spend the holiday with my brother. Because of my work schedule, it had been close to 15 years since I was able to return to “snow country”. It was cold and snowy, but it was the season for it.
I spent time with family, ate many meals, and was still able to bake and share my cookies. My family loves chocolate chip cookies and I enjoyed sharing them with them, but not the cold weather. It got as low as 19 degrees and my nose froze. I forgot what Colorado is like during the winter. But when with family we forget what the weather is outside. Inside the home was warm, filled with laughter, jostling with each other, and togetherness. It was a time that brought back many fond memories and good times.
My eldest brother also loved this time of year. I was able to have a good conversation with him. He told me that his wish came true. He was able to see another holiday and was able to spend it with all of us. Usually he would decorate outside of his house with lights and always put a tree up. Unfortunately, there were no lights outside, but he got to see the lights on the tree and its ornaments and he was surprised that I made it home for the holiday.
My brother still took his responsibilities as the eldest brother. He knew his time was limited and he spent each moment laughing, giving advice, and just being in the present. He ate various candies, which he had not been able to eat for the last eight years. He treasured the taste and smiled with each bite. This was a holiday of joy and true happiness for him. He was surrounded with his family, their love, and compassion and his favorite foods.
It is a sad time but I have my Nembutsu to help bring sense to this grief. We all know of this principle we call impermanence, yet when it happens we lose all concepts of its meaning. All of us do not want our loved ones to leave this earthly realm; however, all things are subject to change. It is the essence of our wisdom to look at the truth of life.
However, we live this holiday in the moment and with those we cherish and love. The holiday may not be the kind portrayed on television, but that is la-la land. We treasure our family and friends and the togetherness of being an extended family. We share what we can and when we can. We try to bring a bit of cheer to friends and strangers. This is such a wonderful time to live in the Nembutsu. We share Namu Amida Butsu with true heart and mind.
Our Namu Amida Butsu is year round. It does not stop at the end of the season but we extend it year round. We try to live in kindness, patience and give unselfishly. There are times when we do not live the Golden Chain;however it is the compassion of the Buddha that guides us to extend our cheer and goodwill. We may encounter difficulties during the year, but it is through Namu Amida Butsu that will guide us in making choices for the betterment of living a life of Nembutsu and for the welfare of society.
Happy Holiday! May it be safe and filled with good cheer, friends, family, and good tidings.
Gassho, Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano