Lisa’s Zen Christmas and the Lesson of the Sacred Heart

Jan 8, 2014 by


Happy Holidays!


I have been on a little bit of a Blogcation, since I am spending all my writing time working on my book, “The Gift of Empathy.” Yey! And it’s going GREAT, by the way. But I felt inspired to do a holiday blog.


I really love the Holiday season. I was trying to think about WHY I like it so much, because on the surface level, it’s really a big pain in the neck, isn’t it? You run around like a crazy person, spending money you don’t have on stuff no one really needs. So much energy spent on frantic errands, cooking, shopping, cleaning- repeat.


Diets and budgets blown to bits.

And yet, there is so much more going on at the Holidays for me then frenetic activity, rampant materialism and over eating. This year, I experienced a detachment around a need for stuff. Material things are kinda fun, in a shiny new toy way, but things don’t make me happy.



It’s so clear to me that happiness and contentment is an inner quality and that one can achieve that state no matter what is going on in the world around us. I even felt a weird detachment to other people as the source of my happiness. Other people can’t MAKE me happy. I was listening to Mariah Carey belt out “All I want for Christmas is you…” and couldn’t wrap my head around feeling that way.


It was a sort of a odd, Zen Christmas experience. I felt that I was floating in a bubble of my own self-generated happiness, contentment welling up from inside of me. I don’t need anything from the outside to bring this on. Although it is very sweet and fun to have external yummy things, I don’t NEED it. Just as I don’t NEED another person to feel happy either.


Now don’t get me wrong, I love all my people deeply. If anything, I love them all more then ever.


My Zen Christmas moment came when I realized that the more I self-authorize, the more freed up I am to actually love everyone without fear, with complete abandon. Without the holding back that happens when you NEED someone else to be there for your okayness.


When I love without needy attachment, my heart is braver, more committed and more open then ever.


It was an ordinary, simple moment, driving in the car on the way back from my sister’s house. We had a lovely time there, eating the Roast Beast and my sister’s absolutely smashing pumpkin pie and being all cozy with my kids and parents. I loved watching the three generations of my family all connecting and enjoying each other, and felt immense gratitude that I come from a family where we all genuinely like each other, as well as love each other.


On the way home in the car, with Michael Buble singing “White Christmas” on the car radio, my son Devin said, “Thanks for Christmas mom. I know how hard you worked to make it all happen for us. Love you mom.” And in that moment of unsolicited appreciation from my seventeen-year old son, my heart opened to maximum expansion.


BAM. I felt like the Grinch, whose heart grew three sizes in one day.


It’s always a bit hard for me to explain this experiences that I have, but here goes. I could see/feel light expanding out from my maxed open heart, like a clear, sweet bell ringing out from my chest into the world.


I knew then why this holiday is all about light.



We put lights on our houses, lights candles, burn fires and put lights on a tree inside out homes. (Sort of weird when you really think about it…) All that light is there to illuminate the darkest night of the year. Each of our acts of love and kindness add to that light.


WE are that light, and that light is the light of love. This holiday season invites us to open our hearts and shine the light of our love in the world. The outer lights are just a reflection of the light within us, and each moment we choose to be kind, generous and loving we add our light into The Light of the World.


The rest, the running around, buying stuff and doing stuff is just window dressing. The real light comes through such small things. Smiling at a stranger, letting someone cut you in line, or pausing for someone in traffic. It’s your neighbor who shovels you out, or the Christmas cookies you make with love and pass around.


I believe that we have a deep, human need to celebrate. It’s one of the core needs we have and that all celebration, especially this time of year is about adding our little lights into The Light.


And yet, I know not everyone has an easy time at the holidays. If you aren’t in such a good space in your life, it’s all seems even worse at the Holidays. Our lives don’t always mirror the Lifetime Christmas Movie Specials. (Gak!) Loneliness, poverty, hunger, pain, grief and loss don’t take a break for the Holidays. If anything, they are worse.


There are loved ones not present. There are broken dreams, and hearts, unmet needs and painful expectations left unfulfilled. The pain of the world continues, unabated, as it ever does. In fact, it maybe even a little crueler since we COMPARE and feel even worse if our lives are not picture perfect, as we imagine that others are.


And God help you if you have a real trauma during the holidays since it’s even worse if bad or painful things happen on a holiday. Truly, it’s why some people hate the holidays. Bah. Humbug.


And yet, as the light of love expands in my heart, I find that facing the pain of the world, the suffering of others doesn’t close my heart. In fact, it opens me even more. Love and grief are two sides of the same coin, and opening to love also means opening to grief.


If your heart is open wide enough, you can fit all the pain of the world in it. This is the lesson of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I went with my oldest son Grayson to the Fatima Shrine on Christmas Eve. The other kids elected to stay home, so we had a little quiet time, my son and I. It is a very sweet family tradition to visit the beautiful lights display in this holy place, this outdoor church.


I lit a candle and we prayed, Grayson holding my hand, totally unselfconsciously, like he was still a little kid.


We stopped in front of an image of the Sacred Heart. In it, Jesus holds open his robe as his glowing heart, covered with thorns, is pierced open by the sword of truth. That is how it is for us humans. That pain and grief- inevitably part of our experience- rends the heart open and through that opening, that renting asunder, comes the flames of divine light.



It is only after our hearts are cracked open that we can feel divine love. So let your heart break, lean into it, if you can. That is lesson of the Sacred Heart. Once I learned that, it lessoned my fear of heartbreak considerably.


The Sacred Heart is one my favorite images of all time. If I were totally fearless I would get a huge, colorful tattoo of it right over my heart. Maybe I will, fear and vanity aside…

Jesus and his Sacred Heart have taught more about compassion then anything else. I learned that if you lean into it and consciously open your heart in compassion to another person, you can actually transform their suffering. Staying fully present, grounded and heart opened in the face of someone’s suffering is a healing. It transmutes suffering and takes it out of the world.


Compassion heals suffering and that is lesson of the Sacred Heart.


Try it.


Next time you are in the presence of someone’s pain, or you are feeling the Pain of the World, get really grounded. Stay present and sit back into your spine. Then consciously make the choice to open your heart to that person. Open it as wide as you can, big enough to fit that person and their pain into your heart.


Look into their eyes and hold them in your heart. If you learn to do this, you will find that you can move through world, heart open without fear of heartbreak. And then each heartbreak you have only opens your heart to more love.


And so I am wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy New Year. We bundle all those up and call them The Holidays. They are Holy Days, that is where that word comes from. I think it’s nice to keep and remember the Holy Days. In truth, all days are holy, if we live them that way.


May all your days be holy.

May you be a light in the world.

May you love without fear.

May you find peace within.



Love Lisa xoxoxoxoxoxoxo








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