Archive | December, 2022

The Year of The Common

31 Dec

As I write this, the sun is waking up behind the Catalina mountains and within the hour will climb up the eastern side of those mountains, stand on the highest peak and announce the arrival of a new day. A special day. An “Eve” day. Not in the “Adam and….” sense, but in the “A new thing is coming…” sense. An echo of the Creator’s ancient voice: Behold, I make something new. Do you not see it. Something new, indeed.

I hope 2023 (feels strange to write that number) will be a very common year. Common in this sense: A lot of children play in this sandbox, and we are becoming too accustomed to grabbing and taking, name calling, and throwing sand at each other. I hope for the new year a new sense of our commonality. And my list includes these things: A realization that we have one sandbox and when we have temper tantrums and throw sand at each other, or when we each fill our buckets and claim “this is mine!” or when we recklessly toss sand out of the box, we destroy the playground. We live on a floating ball in space, and we have no other options. Common sense says: Take care of it. Next, the sandbox is big enough for everybody. We don’t all look alike, sound alike, think alike, but deep down we all want to enjoy the play until it’s time to take our naps. We have everything in common. Maybe in 2023 we can stop focusing on our differences and begin to honor our commonality. It’s just Common Sense. And here’s the obvious one: we all come from a common source, and although we have given that Common Source many names, we are sisters and brothers, offspring of The One. My blood runs in your veins and yours in mine. Common courtesy, common respect, common concern. Aren’t those the marks of a loving, caring family?

So, I would like to proclaim 2023 as “The Year Of The Common”. Let’s start with Common Sense. What’s growing in your garden? Take care of that delicate plant, nurture it. It may turn out to be the most important plant of all.

Simple Kindness

29 Dec

When I grow up, I’d like to be
in charge of the world, or maybe a tree.
It would be such fun to climb to the top,
sway in the wind and then perhaps drop
down through the branches and onto the ground,
lay there in silence, not making a sound
as I counted the blades of sweet, green grass
while circus elephants lumbered past.

I wonder which would be more fun,
running the world or soaking up sun
in a place where zebras have purple stripes
and very small clowns ride very small bikes.
Yes, when I grow up I’d like to be
the very best version of the very best me.

What do you think you’d like to be?
My friend replied: “Well, let me see.
I have no interest in ruling the earth,
my banker said I have no net worth.
I don’t aspire to leadership posts,
although I’m quite good at offering toasts.
Rule the world? No. No. Not me.
There’s only one thing that I want to be.
It’s the desire of both my heart and my mind.
Everyday of my life I want to be kind.”

That’s it. That’s all I want to be.
I’d like to wake up tomorrow and see
lions and lambs asleep, side by side,
love replace our contentious pride.
What if we all used our minds
to think of ten ways to simply be kind?

Christmas All Over Again

25 Dec

I waited for God on the palace steps,
a logical place for God to appear,
but the sunlight faded and the night grew cold
and the presence of God was never here.

So I went to the Temple, with certainty
that in these sacred granite halls,
God would appear and I would be
embraced by a love that extends to all.

In courts of law, in fields of tall grain,
in places where people suffer with pain,
among the stalls of the marketplace,
I’ve longed for a glimpse of incarnate grace.

And then one day, as I sat in despair
in a lovely park in the fresh autumn air,
a woman with an infant, not far away,
called out to me and I heard her say:

Forgive me, sir, you appear so sad.
May I show you something that makes me glad?
As she approached, she revealed the face
of the infant child whom she embraced.

And as I looked with wonder and awe,
in that glorious moment I clearly saw
the One whom I sought among princes and kings,
the radiant child for whom angels sing.

Perched high on a branch of an ancient tree,
a Mockingbird sang to the child and to me,
announcing that God is among us still,
that Love and Grace, God’s perfect will,

has entered the bounds of humanity
but only discerned by eyes that can see
the gift contained in the infant’s smile,
hope that resides in this little child.

The gloom in my life disappeared that day
all because He passed my way,
saw my sadness and stopped to say:
take heart, my friend, love has no end.
Fear and grief cannot contend
with the joy that awaits all who see
the promise of glory that lives in me.

A Life Lesson In Light

18 Dec

Not long ago I heard a soft tapping on my apartment door and when I opened it, there stood my friend Harry. He held the cross in his hand, which surprised me because Harry is Jewish and a cross does not fit into his theology. Harry is an artist with cut glass. I’ve seen some very high quality pieces in his apartment down the hall. He said: “I made this for you.” Imagine that. Now the cross hangs on the desk lamp where I see it everyday against the backdrop of warm light. For a Christian, the cross has deep meaning. Light, too. But the symbol of light spans religious boundaries. Today is the first day of an eight-day Jewish celebration called Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, a very important few days for Jews around the world. In my faith tradition, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world.” Light is a common denominator. The sun shines on all of us without regard for location, language, heritage or history. For me, light shines through the cross. For Harry, light is the backdrop for religious festival and celebration. It seems to me that if we looked hard enough, we would always find the commonality in our diversity, the sameness that unites people and nations that seem so different. I’m grateful for my friend’s thoughtfulness, for friendships that are not restricted by boundaries, for the blue, cut-glass cross that hangs on my desk lamp, and for light that falls on us all. May the light of the Advent candles and the light of the Menorah remind us of who we are. Merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah to all.

Gifts That Last Forever

17 Dec

Decorations make the season dazzle! Within my view as I write these words, I see brilliant red poinsettias; Christmas angels sharing the top shelf of the bookcase; a little, red Christmas bear wearing a bright green sweater; a small, white Christmas tree on which hang stars of various colors and a special ornament. It’s in the shape of a black dog, a memory of Maggie who loved the season as much as I do. Have you decorated your home for the season? May I suggest a few special decorations you might consider? How about Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control? And where do you buy these? You don’t. They actually come as a gift, and they are more than decorations. They are life qualities that reside deep within even when the poinsettias are gone and the decorations are put away. In fact, to possess these gifts and to let them live within you is an honor to the one who gives them. To receive them, just kneel before the manger and look upon the presence of God. O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Welome To The Light

8 Dec

A Holiday Thought

He lives in a box most of the year. Maybe that’s why he’s not smiling. I can’t blame him. I’d be a little grumpy, too. But I know some people who do the same thing, some who never come out of their box at all. So sad, because the light is so beautiful. The lights of Christmas penetrate even the darkest places. THE Light is an invitation to new hope, new joy, new purpose. Maybe our job is to lift some of those box lids with kind words and loving actions, and invite someone out of darkness and isolation. That’s exactly what THE Light did. A joyful possibility in this holy season.