On Black Friday a quote came through on my News Feed on Facebook. It was attributed to Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman) a Wahpeton Santee Sioux.
“It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one’s spiritual balance. Therefore, children must learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving “.
Given the source, I cannot be certain the quote is correctly contributed. Nonetheless, the quote speaks to my inward struggle at this time of year. I want to be a part of the cultural celebrations. Yet, I also want to celebrate in a way that honours my “spiritual balance”. In a culture that celebrates materialism and consumerism, I find it very challenging to actualize my intentions.
When I lived in Ireland, the holidays were about family and friends. It was a time set aside to spend time with people, usually accompanied by good food and drinks. Any gifts that were exchanged were done by businesses thanking customers or were for the children. When I try to explain the differences between there and here, it’s hard to put into words. The differences are in the spirit of the celebrations, in the attitude, and therefore intentions of the people. It makes me incredibly aware of how much the environment surrounding me impacts me. As much as I might try to recreate the spirit of the holidays here, as it was there, it is astonishingly hard to translate.
How do I honour my “spiritual balance” in the place I am today in the midst of cultural expectations I resist? When was the last time I gave away what I prize most merely because I knew the recipient would enjoy it? Have I learned the beauty of generosity? How do I reconcile these thoughts and my intentions with the season that is upon us? I don’t have any good answers yet.
I know I will continue to struggle with finding my spiritual balance in the midst of culturally encouraged consumerism. I will continue to explore what spiritual balance means to me. I know I will continue to struggle with finding the balance for my son between him celebrating the holiday and not being consumed with what he is getting. I will continue to struggle with all of these things. My hope is that my struggle and the thoughtfulness of my choices will eventually find me a way through.