Dearest friends,

It is my first time back in Toronto for the holiday season in several years; a kind of new/old experience! Amidst all the shopping madness, snow and drizzle, Christmas carols, chocolate, and lights, I have been reflecting on space.

A few weeks ago I was out on my “Free Spirit” bicycle and noticed a beautiful sunset. After having settled into a fairly regular work routine in the city (with all the busyness that entails), it had been a long time since I’d been with nature in its full glory. So I decided to ride my bike across town just so that I could watch the sunset reflecting in the large puddles from a recent thunderstorm. I was so enthralled with the sunset in fact, that I somehow failed to notice that hurricane force winds were picking up. Of course it didn’t take long for me to notice that I was riding directly into the 80km/hr winds as I peddled furiously. At times I was unable to move the bike at all or I found myself going sideways instead of forward. At one point I passed a massive fallen maple tree that was blocking the entire road. At other times there were flurries of dried leaves blowing in every direction. By the time I reached my parents’ house, I was drenched in sweat and my hair was sticking out in every possible direction. I don’t generally seek out danger but sometimes there is a great joy that arises from being able to flow with the unexpected surprises of life. This was one of those moments! Suddenly, there was a space, the space of presence.

This came up again today. Hours of the day passed by amidst extremely unexciting activities (like making phone calls to the ministry of health to figure out why their reports don’t make sense…not even to their own employees!). But then I was drawn to the bright sunshine and shimmering snow outside and before I knew it, I was wearing snow pants, a winter jacket, scarf, hat and mitts and was lying on my back in the back yard making snow angels. The sky was vast and blue with light golden clouds slowly passing by behind the intricate patterns of branches of the bare, naked winter trees. On my back staring at the sky all was quiet… quiet as the breath of trees in winter. Stillness. Space. Inside and outside. Alike.

Most days now, I do not have the opportunity to find that spaciousness in our magnificent mother earth. I am back to being a city dweller. But the space of presence still arises and when I notice it has disappeared, I seek it out.

Space on the crowded subway. Bodies pressed together, fellow passengers cursing, fatigue and frustration all around. In my breath and presence I find space.

Space as I stare at my glaring computer screen for hours. Looking between and beyond the words, and inside that which is writing words. In my breath and presence I find space.

Space as I sit with many beautiful souls. Listening, caring and allowing all the feelings which arise to flow through our beings. In my breath and presence I find space.

Space as I wash the dishes. Sticky plates covered in grease and greens. Water flowing, hands moving, weight shifting. In my breath and presence I find space.

How wonderful it has been to discover how moments of presence seem to bring to life to even this relatively mundane urban existence.

Wishing you all much space to be and room to breathe during the busy holiday season. May we each allow our inner lights to shine shamelessly not only during the holidays, but in every moment of our short lives. May every day be a happy new day and every year be a Happy New Year!!
Lots of love,
Shira

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