- Thoughts for inspired living

December 10, 2007


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:49 am

There is something interesting about bringing a dead tree into your house and decorating it. It’s tradition. We do it every year. I have threatened to buy one with a root ball and plant it when the weather breaks, but that hasn’t happened yet. Artificial trees are not an option.

We bring out the Johnny Mathis Merry Christmas CD, which is 50 years old this year, and decorate. We put a flashing angel, which we’ve had for 36 Christmases, at the top of the tree; then affix lights, tinsel, garland and hang new ornaments, along with ones that have some family history attached to them. And when it’s all done, someone invariable says, “best tree ever.”

This tradition no matter how gauche or foreign it may seem to others brings everyone in our family a warm fuzzy. I can’t defend it. I just enjoy it.

It got me to wondering about traditions that don’t bring such warm feelings. How many of them do we hang on to after they’ve had their run and have turned cold?

It’s a fairly common occurrence. These threadbare traditions are patterns of behavior that run in the background and they run us. These patterns may have been very purposeful when they were originally formed but have outlived their usefulness – like a Christmas fruitcake in February – yet, we hang on to them.

If eradicating patterns were an exercise in logic, these patterns could easily be discarded just based on the facts. But patterns don’t respond to logic because there is emotion tied to them. You’ll never win an emotional argument with facts. As Ishmael says,

“There is no argument powerful enough to end the argument.”

You will often hear me say that recognition is the catalyst for change. Once we recognize that we have a tradition in place that isn’t working, we are on the doorstep of discovery. The real courage is to step through that doorway and find out what’s there.

I remember many years ago someone asking Dr. Dave Dobson why he thought women stayed in physically abusive relationships. His answer was profound. He said something like, “they know what to expect in this relationship; they don’t know what to expect away from it.” He explained that their fear of the unknown was much stronger than the fear of the abusive partner.

So where does the courage come from? I can assure you it won’t come from any logical discussion. Courage is a sensation that just comes upon us. It’s like the Christian concept of grace. You can’t talk your way into receiving grace. It just shows up. It shows up when we put the logic away. When we stop arm wrestling with ourselves in our mind, we make space for grace.

This sensation called grace gives us the courage to traverse thresholds and begin new traditions – ones that deliver more warm fuzzies.

Getting yourself to a quiet place everyday will do more for you than any amount of logical chit-chat. Make time to give yourself an early gift this holiday season – the gift of quiet contemplation, where thinking takes a vacation, and grace fills that space.

All the best,


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