The Wilderness

This post is a part of our weekly email called “Presence+Practice”. You can have early access to this weekly content by subscribing to our newsletter.


I once heard a minister say – very sincerely – that he did not need Christmas to be in the “Christmas spirit.” He explained that he can hold the warmth, tenderness, and joy associated with this season in his heart all the year long.

As a young child, I noticed how everyone seemed to be so much kinder during this time of year. Even my older brothers would allow me to tag along.

What does this mean? Human beings, with God’s help, have this beautiful capacity to orient themselves toward compassion, generosity, and even happiness anytime and anywhere.

Through telling the Nativity story, lighting candles, giving gifts, singing special songs, or smelling the pine filling up your home, may this season vividly remind you of the invitation to be fully alive and fully present to whatever arises with kindness and joy.


Researchers Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer report that people who experience overwhelming depression, anxiety, stress, and shame can benefit from learning to relate to themselves with self-compassion.

This week’s featured practice, “The Wilderness,” activates the compassion available to us when we feel emotional discomfort. We are reminded that there is a greater reality than our current mood – like the moment a plane breaks through rain clouds and we can finally see the larger blue sky was there the entire time.


(To try out this week’s Featured Practice, visit the Second Breath app on your iPhone or on your Android and find the “Practice of the Week” on the home screen.) 

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The fact is we are also surrounded by wonder, blue sky, blue birds, miracles and there are small acts of kindness and compassion all around. We are immersed in beauty and, in the words of Gerard Manly Hopkins, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”