12-25-01 10:20Hrs–Rochester, NY—

Another Christmas has come.

This one is filled with all the wonder and all of the joy that their predecessors have brought, along with some added sadness. As I sat and watched our two kids open their gifts from Santa this year, over the rim of my morning tea, a focusing thought struck me. Is it just me or do our lives get sadder every year? I just had to write a column…

No, don’t worry. I’ve not taken leave of my senses… I am not being overly morose here, nor am I wallowing in self- pity. There is a positive point, here, trust me.

But consider; as we get older, we become more aware of the world around us, and how hard it can be. Small concerns are our focus when we are as young as my two are. My younger boy’s biggest concern is, will he get to play with his trains today, and watching a favorite cartoon. The older boy’s big thing these days is watching the real trains when we get the chance to go out and see them together. (I suspect that the ‘together’ part is the most important.)

As we grow up, our focus changes, of necessity. It’s a hard world out there, and being adults we’ve come to understand this, in a way of understanding that only long exposure and experience can bring.

Each new hurt leaves it’s own scar on our souls. We see, this year, the illusions of peace disappearing in the Middle East, and we’ve seen the war being brought to us here in the US. There’s nothing like the specter of 5000 people dying on national television to remind us we’re not in control.

Seems every year we have more worries and concerns. We worry about out health, and those concerns increase with advancing age. We worry about our jobs, about our investments, our savings, about the future in general. Retirement is a concern. Will we have enough? We worry about the future our kids will have and the normal growing up problems, but we also worry about the future that we’ve left our kids. What kind of a world have we left them? We see loved ones die. We’ve seen marriages
we thought would pass the test of time, pass away, instead. Things we had hoped would come to pass, didn’t, and those we’d not dreamed, in our wildest nightmares would happen, did. The list of these reverses, these scars, gets longer as the years progress, and it starts eventually, to break down the positive outlook in us all…. Each according to their ability to resist.

And that, I thought, over this morning’s Earl Grey, is why Christmas holds a special place in our hearts, and our traditions. The obvious spiritual considerations aside for the moment, it is a time of renewal of our fragile human spirit. All of the hurts, small and large, become less pronounced, and fade under the soft glow of the lights, the candles the fireplace, and the smile of the children.

It is the children, in fact, that do us the most healing. Our long experience has hardened us to the realities of the world around us, and perhaps jaded our point of view. Christmas gives us, individually and collectively, the chance of looking at the world though the wonder-filled eyes of a child once again. Becoming childlike,
ourselves, in the process, and becoming healed and renewed.

Hmmm. Little Children, eh? (Sound of turning pages)

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

Healing, indeed!

A blessed Christmas to each of you.

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