It's Christmas Eve, and I find myself reading a book that a friend loaned to me — one that I've been reading all year long — A Year of Living Consciously by Gay Hendricks.

One passage struck me as particularly moving this morning, and I wanted to share it with all of you. The holidays can be such a bittersweet time, as we celebrate all that we have to be thankful for, and mourn that which we feel we have lost. 

'In every winter's heart there is a quivering spring and behind the veil of each night there is a smiling dawn. — Kahlil Gibran

One of our neighbors is in the process of building a second-story deck onto the back of his house. We got a view into not only the deck-building process but something far more buried in this neighbor's heart and experience when he began trying to decide, during a discussion with us, whether to put stairs on the deck. He was concerned that it would make his house too accessible for thieves.

As he listed the pros and cons, we began to believe the he was really talking about a deeper level of fear for his safety. A single man who jumps from one short-term, intense relationship to another, and has for the twenty or so years he's been an adult, he was trying to come up with a way in which he could gird and guard himself against the possible inroads someone might make into his heart. 

We decided to take a risk, not knowing the man very well, and point out our observations. His eyes instantly glittered with tears, and we told him that we were glad to have raised the issue about his loneliness and self-protection.

"You made me cry," he said, sounding astounded. "I haven't cried since I was a boy."

"That's great!" we rejoiced. "You let someone in!" He shook his head at his wacky neighbors and went off to make his decision alone.

At this moment, looking out of the window in our writing room, we can see the deck as it nears completion; the stairs rise up to join the deck flooring, and our neighbor has built sunburst patterns into the railings all the way up the stairs.'

I wish you all peace, love, and enlightenment on your journey up the stairs to your heart.

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