Christmas Light

This is just another of those little observations that many times the holidays are difficult. I still feel they shouldn’t be that way, but I was thinking about why it is that they often are.

I believe it has something to do with ‘light’. Light has so many good and needful properties, and we love to bask in it, but it is disconcerting at times, too. Light exposes things we wish it wouldn’t.

Sometimes it exposes our selfishness and negligence. Sometimes it exposes hurts we wish remained under wraps, and there are times it exposes things we we have need of, that we’d prefer to ignore and thus deny our dependence.

Christmas with its high expectations, with its bright shining in the midst of winters dark soul has holiday candle power multiplied.

That is the secret of both its capacity to produce so much that is wonderful and its risks of deep disappointment.

Some people are so carefully constructing their walls against disappointment that they withdraw from the holidays altogether; but it is time that -if we determine- can hold opportunities to sow so much seed for a future harvest of good will. And allow it into our lives, as well.

Now there is an illustration for gardening people. It is nothing short of miraculous that the dark, deathly, winter cold could be a time of sowing and give promise of fruit. But it all hinges on our expectations, and if we have those misplaced we could miss the whole meaning of this holiday in our lives.

Which is the coming of light into our dark places.

So why don’t we proceed to light some candles this season? If it shows up something sad or worried or torn, I think we can seek God’s Grace in the time of our need…. and we can have hearts more open to what the needs truly are. It is all there in the Light.

Light of the World shine upon us, we pray, and give us grace to accept what we see, to receive what we need, and to give forth what is good.

Desiring A Grateful Heart

Awhile ago I had a book I was reading, Marmot’s ‘The Status Syndrome’ listed in the sidebar, and commented on it. It had some theories on happiness arising from British research.

The main point found was that people are often happy about their place in life based upon a view relative to other people, socially. It was a measure that accounted for where they were in a comparison perspective. Most likely, Marmot had a bead on the world system, called the cosmos in the Bible.

This habit of comparison is a false set of measures according to the Bible, and that shouldn’t be hard to observe. We have lots of common sayings to express it…. starting with “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”.

We try to remind ourselves that it isn’t what we have, toys-accomplishments-prestige-whatever, that makes us happy. But for most of us, most of the time, it seems we are failing in efforts to remind ourselves of what is most important. I think of the verse that says that when we go away from the picture the Word of God gives us, we forget what manner of person we are. We start comparing again.

During this time of thanksgiving season we have an antidote to that. “Counting our blessings” is the prescription.

Everyone has troubles to one degree or another, and some have an overwhelming amount, but the grace of God is that we often have many good things to be thankful for.

It is time to account for those things and offer our thanks: our acquiesence that “yes, I have been given good things in my life”. “I am grateful for those things”.

If God is Our Father we have the greatest reason to see the good in creation, as He has seen it. A measured response to the fact that much has been marred is to take inventory of what is of value. To love and preserve the precious and valuble. If we have any lick of sense whatsoever, we will put our family, friends, and fellow human beings on the top of that list.

And be thankful for whatever of the rest we are given. I said “given”, not “gotten” for those who are confused about this. And that is something that thankfulness is about, it recognizes that we are not in this alone, we are influential in other’s happiness, and they in ours. We have debts, as well as debtors, and for those of us who know God, we understand God’s goodness is that He has a care for all these.

The enemy to thankfulness is pride, I think. Pride will destroy our ability to assess the importance of others and their value, it will unduly imbue possessions with power and personality, as we try to play at God. And that is always the worst idolatry, don’t you think?

So as we go into Thanksgiving, and we enjoy the feast here in America, whether it is in a homeless shelter, or an estate, let us be thankful, and show thankfulness in our approach to each other, and in our standing before God who has allowed us good things all out of proportion to what we deserve.

And that is the truth. Count your many blessings…name then one by one….. savor and satiate upon the meditation. It is the best preparation for Christmas that I can think of.

Thankfulness is always an endpoint and a beginning point. True thankfulness will propel us into a better place, with a truer assessment than all the sideways comparing we may attempt, it will give rise to hope, optimism, and open-heartedness.

Because there are more ways to fill a soul than to feast on Turkey and dressing. But turkey and dressing are certainly a fine way to accompany the main course…… Have a Happy Thanksgiving this week and don’t forget the pièce de résistance: being actually thankful.