The real meaning of Christmas was hard to find for me this year. It was not in the stores, amidst all of the glitter and stacks of merchandise. And, my Google searches failed to come up with just the right gift that would brighten our hearts.
There are a lot of “doings” this time of year. Social events filled my calendar. And while they were fun, and I chatted with a number of people, the real meaning of this time was missing.
As I keep relearning over the years, truly connecting with others and sharing the love and peace of the season is found in the quiet talks, the quiet interactions, far from the hustle and holiday rush.
I’ve been receiving such amazing, wonderful gifts.
I met a friend by chance the other day. She had just lost a close relative to cancer, and needed to talk. We grieved, and celebrated a life that ended far too early. We hugged and cried, and remembered good times.
A young man wrote his first Christmas card ever, painstakingly writing out a simple, heartfelt greeting to me. His life has been so challenging, so bleak, that he’d never held a pencil or crayon in his hand until a year ago. Now, in a safe place, at seventeen, he’s developing the muscles in his fingers, and the hand-eye coordination necessary to write a simple sentence, able at last to express himself in writing.
Another young man told me of his song writing and his new ability to share his music with others. Family is far away, especially at this time of year. Learning to share his talents, let alone acknowledge that he has them, has been his achievement this year.
And still another young man tells me of his success in his treatment, finally able to love himself for who he is, to see himself as a young man, able to love and smile.
It seemed a simple thing to do, to go visit him. He’d called and asked me to come. It didn’t seem like much, at first, to spend some time and listen to what he had to say. And in the telling and the sharing, I could see him grow even more, able to find the words to describe himself as a worthwhile, decent man.
These times of simply being there, listening, caring teaches me so much. One again, I am astonished how just showing up and being present can make all the difference in the world.
Hope, dignity, acceptance, community – simple words, and simple ideals. Yet, when we open our eyes, our arms and our hearts to simply be with others, miracles happen and our hearts are filled.
And, the real meaning of the season is revealed.
Neal Lemery 12/23/2016