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Posts Tagged ‘priest’

another_sad_christmas_by_sindesire

Photo Credit: isthisrevolutionary.com

Sitting on my couch on this Christmas Eve in the home where I was raised, I can’t help but reflect upon the holiday season. Personally, it’s my favorite time of year. I revel in the Christmas cliches: presents, decorations, kids running around, family photo shoots, feasts at the dinner table, the whole nine yards. But as I’ve matured I find that just as I’m about to enter holiday ecstasy my brain puts on the emotional brakes.

Part of this impulse come from the memory of those holiday highs of my youth quickly turning to bouts of depression when the presents were opened, relatives left, and the Christmas lights turned off. But I also find a healthy dose of perspective is both essential in recognizing the true value of our blessings and a tool to building a stronger, more compassionate community. Several years ago at my sister’s wedding, the residing priest encouraged us to pray for those seeking love, hoping to repair broken relationships, an eloquent yet stern reminder that the most joyful of celebrations can be excruciating for those witnesses on the outside. The insight to recognize and address such silent suffering amid such joy must be tremendously profound.

This time around, my perspective-building logical side asked: “Will the holidays joyful for everyone?” Considering the news of the past week, that’s an emphatic no. Of course, the holidays never are. Even if the horrors at Sandy Hook never occurred, there are thousands still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, others grieving for lost loved ones, more without a home to return to, or worse, without a family.

I find simply recognizing those struggles alone bring a greater gratitude and meaning to the gifts of Christmas. This year I want to take it a step further. I’ve made it my mission to find a place to volunteer a few hours on Christmas Day. In previous years I would merely contemplate the idea of volunteering before retreating, but this year I’m following through, calling up a few of the homeless shelters and breakfast programs in Oakland and Berkeley. A few hours won’t solve all the challenging circumstances of those in need, but I hope that, at the very least, I can turn a few witnesses into participants in my celebration, if only for a few moments. In return, I’m hoping to gain some perspective. Now that would be a great gift.

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