I spent November giving thanks publicly on Facebook, thinking about all the pieces of my life that I have to be thankful for. It made me feel good about myself, look at life as filled with positives. I enjoyed reading other’s posts about what they were thankful for. It forced us to really think about all the good we had in our lives that sometimes gets buried by the day to day chores and routines. But then November ended and so did many of the positive posts. I wasn’t ready to give up on looking for and commenting on the brighter moments, so I challenged myself to find a blessing or beginning for each post I made in December. If you follow the Christian calendar, we are in the season of Advent, waiting excitedly for the arrival of Jesus, our messiah. It is a time of anticipation for new beginnings, possibly one of the reasons the celebration was moved to December, to help transition into the new year, begin again, wipe the slate clean. It is also a time of blessings. After finding she was to carry God’s child, Mary is not tossed aside by Joseph, something that was within his rights at the time, but instead protected. A 70 mile trip with a 9 month pregnant wife to be could have ended badly for Joseph, but an innkeeper gave what he had so they were sheltered when the birth occurred. Shepherds had the news shared and traveled to meet the baby, blessed by the visit of an angel. Scholars traveled many miles to share the blessing of precious gifts with the family and took the secret of the baby’s location home with them. All blessings.
I’ve found that sometimes the blessing is as simple as a ray of sunshine after a week of gray clouds and rain. It was watching the joy of giving to others practiced by an extraordinary group of kids in our Sunday School. It was hearing my cousin asked a young woman, whose outside beauty was accentuated by what shone from within, to marry him, adding another member to our family. It was celebrating the everyday moments with my kids.
Blessings and beginnings are difficult in the wake of Friday’s disaster. All I can hope for is that our country will step back, take a look at what we have decided is important, and make some changes. Changes that focus on family, on the world we have created and the one we really want to live in. I don’t discuss religion often, but the guidelines in all religions encourage us to show love and respect for life and each other. I continue to pray for all of us and hope we will find our way again.
I don’t want to suppress people’s rights to speak or express themselves, nor do I want to ban the right to own firearms. All I ask is that these freedoms are tempered with personal responsibility, with thought and care for others outside ourselves. Governmental restrictions and pointing fingers won’t fix what is wrong, we need to fix it, bit by bit, by each taking responsibility for our own actions. Religion isn’t the answer for everyone either. Forcing ideology and personal beliefs on each other is not the way out of the chaos. Compassion and understanding, tolerance and acceptance are needed.
We have to ask ourselves what each of us can do, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, to make our world a better place to live in. We need to begin to show each other the kindnesses and courtesies that seem to have been lost in the need to own the biggest, best, and latest everything. We need to remember that we are all connected, now more than ever, and our actions cause bigger ripples. Are your ripples nurturing or destructive?
Open a door for someone. Thank the person checking you out at the grocery store. Wish someone a good day ahead and mean it. When asked how you are, respond with a positive. Listen more and talk less. Find the wonder in the simple things. Believe in something. Show compassion but temper it with honesty. In this season of giving, move beyond the tangible gifts and share yourself and the love we all have inside.