zen guide to the holidays

December 3rd, 2010

No, Virginia, there really isn’t a Zen guide to the holidays, but I’m going to give you one anyway.

First, a story about the magic of giving. When I was in Seattle this year for a Plunge retreat, a woman in the group approached me afterwards and handed me a package. I said thanks, then I packed it away and didn’t open it until I returned home. When I did, I was astonished. She had made, with her own hands, and placed into my own hands, a felted silk and woolen scarf of the most exquisite artistry that it became the most beautiful thing I own. It seems to be sculpted out of thin air.

Now for the magic. On a chilly Friday night in Portland two months ago, I was sitting on the unheated floor of a church parish hall giving a talk and a woman entered the room and sat right in front of me. She smiled at everything I said. Afterwards, she introduced herself to me once more as Anna Katherine Curfman from Seattle, the scarf maker. She had traveled to Portland for a craft show, heard that very day that I was in town, and made her way across town in the dark to give me the gift of a smiling face in the front row.

We are all traveling a vast distance in the dark. We all have gifts for one another. We come together out of thin air, our hearts full, our arms open, and it’s magic. I resolved that night to give her handmade scarves as gifts this season to those most dear. I highly recommend that you take a look at her magic for yourself. They are not cheap or disposable, but I’ve never seen anything more generously made and freely offered. You may know someone special who will be astonished at how far you go this year to see them smile.

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Zen guide to the holidays, and it’s wrapped into this 30-minute conversation recorded by Donna Wolff Freeman of Yoga in My School. Open it and sit back to receive a soothing balm of quiet comfort straight out of thin air. Imagine it’s my arms, around your shoulders, to soften the chill of dark distance. Generously made and freely offered.


More zen for the holidays, if you act fast: New World Library, the publisher of Hand Wash Cold, is offering their Facebook fans 40% off and free shipping on all products until Monday 12/6. Simply join their Facebook page and enter code SNDIS at checkout when you shop their online catalog. Happy holidays!

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  2. It was such a pleasure to chat with you. You have given me the gift to let go, be myself, and simply be without judgements this holiday and every day to come. Thank you. Hugs from chilly Canada.

    Comment by Donna Freeman — December 3, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

  3. Oh Maezen, I am without words. thank you. (many smiles in my heart right now).

    Comment by Anna Katherine — December 4, 2010 @ 7:44 am

  4. To soften the chill of the dark distance. Such lovely imagery. And such a good story.

    Comment by denise — December 4, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

  5. Thank you for this! I have a special spot in my heart for nuno felt work, after my son created some beautiful work with the lovely women of the SACC program at Pacific Oaks. I will be a grateful customer of Anna Katherine’s beautiful work.

    Comment by Deb — December 4, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

  6. Thank you for this lovely story! I love visiting your blog for a little peace on the web. I wonder if you might have any advice for me: I am a senior in college and I have been struggling with a rough semester. Between deep procrastination and feelings of self-doubt after not getting my thesis in on time I have not felt a lot of peace. Thoughts?

    Comment by Allia — December 5, 2010 @ 4:52 am

  7. Do your work, then set it down. Let others praise or blame.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — December 5, 2010 @ 5:30 am

  8. The wisdom in this post is almost overwhelming. I wish so many more would stop and realize this. Thank you.

    Comment by Christine — December 9, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

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