Be the miracle today

This is dedicated to all the “miracle-makers” in my life. Thank-you is not words enough….

I think the truest miracles in life come to us one at a time, moment by moment. Largely private, largely unseen. The ones that are life-changing, that make all the difference, are often the ones most subtle in form. Not announced by loud proclamations over the wires, but whispered through heartfelt words from person to person. Not felt in the thunder, or through all the noise- but experienced in the quiet, in the still.

In the secret.

She was there on the phone, crying. Sobbing, actually. She had just had lost her job, experienced a medical emergency and had a huge debt to pay. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. There was so much more to her story: so much more pain, so much more sadness, so much more tragedy. We who knew her well understood. We felt for her. Our hearts were breaking. But for the longest time, could do little to help her, physically speaking. She was desperate. And for now, this was where she was at. At a crossroads. Standing at a decision point. It was either ‘sink’ or ‘just keep swimming’ for her. She didn’t know how much longer she could do the latter. She was ready to give up completely.

Because she couldn’t see any way out of this mess.
Because she didn’t know if there was room in this world for a miracle for her.
Because she wasn’t sure entirely she still believed in miracles. At least, miracles designed for her.

She was sharing this distress with her friend, this absolute desolation- when something life-altering happened. Another heart was intertwined and involved in this story. Something happened within the heart of her friend. And while that same friend had already been praying, God opened a door and this friend- her kindred spirit of a friend, whom she was talking to RIGHT THEN AND THERE…walked through a doorway, so to speak. Walked into her heart.  And it happened almost by miracle. Truly by miracle. Because, surely, that’s what this was all about. Miracles of the everyday kind. And because this friend had been there too, in the sense that she had been through the fire, through the storm… through it all- there was a comradeship between them. An understanding. A bond. For both believed that if miracles were to happen, they would happen of their own accord, under God’s careful watch.

Heart to heart, hand to hand. Without anyone ever knowing save for God Himself.

And as the two were talking, the answer appeared. As if by vision- for truly there was a Providential hand at work. The answer came to them both immediately. And for the one who gave freely as from an open heart- as well as for the one who received with broken heart, there was no doubt in either mind: a miracle had just occurred.

It was transformational. A God-inspired moment.

And no one but them would ever know the rest of the story

Sometimes the miracle is so small we might dismiss it entirely: a kind word. A smile. A caring touch. A hug. Sometimes the miracle is bigger, more public in reach. It’s amazing. The thing is, a miracle can happen just about anywhere, anyhow. And all that is often needed is a willingness to be used. To be a vessel. For our hearts are made for this very thing, this very purpose. For such a time as NOW. For such a moment as this very one we are living.

Our hearts were designed to be miracle-shapers. Miracle-makers.

Our hearts were designed to reach out to one another in love. In compassion. In empathy. In heartfelt concern. A miracle can take place just about anywhere…but it is often in the secret that the miracles that mean the most are felt and experienced the most deeply.

Miracles that happen heart to heart are almost indescribable with mere words.
Friendship is one of life’s greatest tangible miracles. Having a friend is miracle in and of itself. Knowing another heart was given to you to hold gently, yet compassionately: this is one of God’s greatest gifts to us as human beings. For when we can join our hearts in love for one another, each for the other: miracles truly do take place. We were all designed for this. To be part of the miracle taking place both in our own lives as well as to be witness to the miracle underway in the lives of those we love and hold the closest. All of us can be a friend. All of us can be a miracle.

And each one of us was given today- this very moment: to be a miracle for someone else.

{sunset picture retrieved from dreamatico.com}

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Walking humbly

I knew I had to do it- even last night as twilight gave way to darkness. But the frustration was still close to the surface. The feelings. And I found a myriad of reasons to explain my behavior, to ease the sting of my wrong done. Somehow, peace just would not come and so it was, I found myself wrapping my arms around her this morning, hugging her tight. I apologized then- for the way I handled my frustration last night. For what I did unkindly, in the heat of a moment. I asked her for forgiveness. And she offered it, freely. The ones we love the most are the ones we hurt the most frequently. And sometimes we forget that in offering those two little words ‘I’m sorry’ backed by heartfelt meaning we find the perfect way- the only peace-filled way in which to live, love and practice the art of forgiveness (that ancient art of letting go and loving wholly).

Forgiveness is a well-worn path leading to love.

Recently, I was ‘somewhere’ with our family. I am going to try to keep this vague so as to protect anonymity. Namely mine. I happened to be walking away from the washroom when I came across a person from my past whom I have not been able to speak to nor face up to for years due to a history of hurt between that person and my immediate family. There is a history here that goes back far with turbulent waters that run deep. There have been wrongs done, words spoken, vengeance taken. On both sides of the fence, perhaps- depending on whom you talk to. And over the years, I have believed that I had released the burden of offense that this person (and the persons who stand with them) had brought me. But yet, I still lived in fear of facing this person. What would I say? What would that person do? How would I react? What if I started to crack up under the pressure?

The binding of this offense from years ago still has a choke-hold on me.

It is not that this person makes me feel angry. It is fear mostly that I feel. Fear of the unknown, fear of what could happen, fear of humiliation. Fear of facing this person. I am reminded of that verse which states that perfect love casts out fear. To be exact, the words of this verse say this: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The man (or woman) who fears is not made perfect in love” (I John 4: 18, NIV) I wonder- what if I practiced loving this person instead of channeling my energy into fearing them. What might transpire were that to happen?

I can tout myself as being a loving person but if I cannot love my enemies, the love I offer is shallow. Who wouldn’t find it easy to love those who treat us well, those who build us up, edify our character? It is easy to love when love feels good. So much harder to love when the price is our pride, our image. We shouldn’t love solely when it is easy- we must love when it is hard. For in loving, we are free. But this is hard work- it require discipline.

I have found in recent years a yearning in my soul to exemplify love in my life. This love is not my own- it is God’s love channelled through me. It is supernatural love of a divine nature. And because I feel the power and presence of love in my life, I am free to love others in the very same ways I too experience love. Unconditionally, liberally, wholly.

In thinking about the offence I have felt over the years, one of which I make mention of above, I am humbly reminded of the offences at times that I have caused. At times, unknowingly and at other times, purposefully. If I am in any way offended by those who have hurt me, how much more then are those whom I have hurt injured by my offence to them? In being human, we are prone to hurt one another by our very nature- one does not have to look far in the news to find evidence of this. We are a hurting people. We live in pain. The freedom from which comes through forgiveness.

I wonder how much of our pain would be eased if we could only take the initiative to bear the weight of any offence committed against us through arms of love. What a humbling exercise- accepting responsibility to start the reconciliation process even when we haven’t been the one who wronged. This is not to say we must accept responsibility for wrongs done which we have not committed- it is just to say that in love and through grace, we can make the first move. This is biblical principle. For we see through scriptures over and over again that love is the antidote to the pain which breeds fear. Not that love can eradicate pain- but it can help us cope with our response to pain. True, there will always be those in our lives that inflict on us the brutality of injustice- but it is the reaction to such that determines the load we end up carrying. My response to the offender is what determines the pain I carry in my shoulders, in my body. In my heart. The release is found in forgiveness.

We must let go and in love move forward.

Recently, a very special woman shared with me her decision to go to someone who had deeply hurt her and how she found grace to offer a hand in love to this person. Just today, I read of a woman whose former husband murdered her three baby boys before turning the gun on himself. And yet, this hurting woman found strength in time to forgive this man, thus releasing her own burden of despair. I think of a man in our own community who offered forgiveness to another during his own family’s darkest hour. And in my own life, I have found the greatest peace has come through laying down my own agenda and rights so as to walk in peace with another human being. So as to walk in peace with my God. I am daily reminded through these and other stories- that it is in releasing our fear, our pain and choosing love in spite of the tremendous odds that we find supernatural strength to forgive.

It is there in the peaceful still that we find quiet, humble grace.

Pray For Moncton, New Brunswick

“Can you stay with me until I fall asleep?” she asks trustingly. I kiss her baby cheeks and cuddle in close.

When disaster strikes, everyone is afraid. And while it is hard for us as adults to understand the travesty of it all, for children it is unthinkable. Hard to believe in hope when all you feel is fear. Children everywhere are scared- I cannot even imagine what terrors are being played out in the minds of those children directly affected by this tragedy. I cannot even fathom.

We are two short hours and a bridge away, but even with that safety net, there is fear. Tonight, my children are fighting sleep because they are afraid. And as one daughter said, “I never had something happen this close to me before in my life.” Even earlier in the evening, another daughter weathered a cramp in the side just to go for the walk that Husband and I take in the evenings to catch a bit of sun and fresh air. She didn’t want to be at home without an adult. And at bedtime tonight, there were a lot of questions. And many, many prayers. Lots more reassurances.

We have family in the triangle currently being cordoned off for the search effort. In talks with my Great Aunt this evening, her gentleman friend’s driveway was two over from the scene of one shocking tragedy last night. My Mom and Dad, traveling through the area yesterday, were on the very streets only three short hours earlier where the horror unfolded last evening. Second and third cousins warned by police to vacate the premises were thus unable to get down their streets to their homes. Little did they know that at that very moment, the unbelievable was happening.

This is real. And it is frightening.

And because it is real, it is hard to know what to say to the little ones who are fearful in my house tonight. We take comfort in knowing that there is one Wiser and Stronger than we are who holds the whole world in His loving hands. Who holds us together in those moments in life when we fall apart. Who has knowledge and understanding of all things and Who can keep us in His perfect peace as our mind’s are fixed on Him. But we are so frail and prone to our humanity; this is so real.

So close to home.

Pray for our men and women in uniform tonight. Our heroes. We are so grateful to the ones who put their own lives in harm’s way to protect the greater good. Pray for courage and for safety. Pray for a quick, swift end to this nightmare, a return once again to the peace we so often take for granted.

And may the Good and Right win out over the evil we have seen. An evil which some have tragically experienced.

And may justice prevail. As we know it will.

As we know it will.

‪#‎PrayForMoncton‬

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/06/05/justin-bourque-moncton-manhunt_n_5450318.html?utm_hp_ref=canada

Living Life Large

When tragedy strikes and disaster hits.  And when calamity occurs and life is lost.  When that life is a child’s life- a precious son or daughter’s  life.  A mother’s life, a wife’s life, a sister’s life.  Or worse: when that loss is a family’s life, it is so pervasive and deadly in its scope.

So unfathomable.

It then becomes probable, for those of us who are left to identify with the face of this loss in such epic proportions, to fall victim to the guilt complex, the blame game.  By way of the “what ifs”.  The “what if this were me and my family” question.  Which leads to the “it can’t happen if I avoid x,y or z” phobia.  That results in a syndrome we fall prey to when realizing how precious life is and how fleeting days are and how truly few are the actual moments we are given.

And then causes us to live in paranoia.

A syndrome which  sometimes instigates otherwise rational, common sensical-type parents, such as I would consider myself to be, to do strange things.  Like panic.   Go to pieces.   Become frightened and start to dread everything and everyone around me or my children.  To avoid crowds.  To become paranoid on airplanes.  To watch news coverage ad naseum.  To be consumed with alternating feelings of rage and sorrow.  And to believe that everyone could be a suspect.

And when in this mode of thinking, we tend to bunker in and batten down the hatches, erroneously believing that by cocooning ourselves and our family, we will somehow be safe and untouched.  Oh! how easy it would be to just hide under the covers and ignore the bad guys.  Pretending it would all go away it we just make a simple wish.

If wishes were horses, my friends.  Beggars would ride.

But what we fail to sometimes remember, in the midst of our over-planning, our over-protection, our over-bearing goodwill toward those we love.   Is this.    It is in the un-fearful living of life, free and glorious, that our lives are released, liberated from the bondage of the awful here and now.  And by facing our fears, as one who moves into the wind, rather than backing away from it, that we truly feel the strength and intensity of our willingness to live.  To embrace life.  To feel the complexity of power and weakness and their interconnectedness.  To finally know ourselves and discover what it truly means to be human and all that entails.

And in allowing ourselves the wonder and excitement- of our child’s first experience on a plane.  We discover that life is not two-dimensional.  It is better lived in 3-D.   And that means enabling our children the independence to come and go, that they so very much need to live and co-exist  on a planet crowded with people.  That means allowing ourselves the ability to enjoy life in its complexity and beauty and chaos and confusion.  That means knowing fear but never allowing fear to preside.  That means moving outwards when all we feel like doing is staying in.

A few short years ago, our young family of three under six years of age took a trip to New York City.   It was a Saturday night in Times Square that I remember so well.  Vividly.  Husband had one child, I had another by the hand and the baby in an umbrella stroller.  And I remember the people.  Crowds, and crowds and crowds of people.  It was so densely packed, sidewalk to sidewalk.  And we could only inch ourselves forward, small baby-steps at a time.

And what I remember even more than that picture of us inching our way toward the notorious NYC subway system was this: the fear.   Because what you need to know was that this was not long after 9/11.  And we had earlier that day been to Ground Zero.

Things were pretty fresh in my mind.

And while looking back, we probably should have left the city earlier.  We probably were a little more foolish and brazen back then.  But nevertheless.   The reason we stayed was because FAO Schwartz was in the middle of Times Square.  And it was like a magical fairyland of dreams come true.  Complete with a Ferris wheel in the middle of the store and all the Lego a boy could envision.  And the reason we stayed was for Sam.  Because we wanted him to experience the wonder.  The excitement, indeed the thrill of the ultimate shopping experience that is that mammoth of all toy stores: FAO Schwartz.  And we stayed because to leave would have been to miss out.  To be denied that experience.  To not live in the moment.

And I say all that to say something else: sometimes in life we do things for ourselves and our children- not because they are the most practical, the most prudent, the most protected means of living.  Some decisions we make are simply for the thrill of experience.  Like riding the roller coaster at Disney.  Like snorkeling or scuba-diving in the ocean.  Like deep-sea fishing.  Like hiking to the top of a mountain.  Or watching a friend run a marathon in a densely packed city.  Is there inherent danger in every one of the above?  You betcha.  But there is also thrill, excitement and wonder.  And isn’t that all a part of living?

And although we often must  needs weigh the thrill against the peril, we must never choose to deny ourselves the experience of living life out loud- full and free and large.    For in living large we get to see life from that unique vantage point: the peak.   And life from the peak is sacred, worth the experience.

Worth the risk.

Why say thanks?

Lights dimmed, a lone candle lit.  All is warm and cozy, safe and sound.  The Little One and I snuggle under plush covers, heads touching on the pillow. Her fine baby hair spreads fan-like, soft tendrils all around. So light.  So easy to be a child.  And yet.

I just feel heavy beside her.  But still I listen to prayers.  Looking, as ever for gratitude in the offerings.  She utters words and so do I.  But my heart is just not in it tonight.  Not in the thankfulness-spirit of it all.

I’m struggling.

How can we be thankful in everything?

I mean, really.  Everything?  You’ve got to be kidding me, right?

I have to stop and share this story.

We arrive for a sleepover, the three girls and I.   My family’s home place, warm and inviting on a bitterly- cold, January evening.   I climb the staircase and round the kitchen corner to find Mom’s water cooler in two pieces, a towel under the floor next to the spot where the container had previously sat atop the base.  The over-sized jug stands, stark naked on the middle of the table, half full of water.

“What happened?” I ask.

“Oh,” she says with a tired voice.  I came home this morning after having been away for a few hours to find the kitchen full of water.  Everywhere, water.”

She tells me of the arduous process of cleaning it all up.  Of taking every piece of china out of the cabinet so as to pull the huge piece of furniture away from the wall.  Of cleaning the leaking mess all around the baseboards and behind every table and cupboard that might move.  Of the hassle this undoubtedly was.

And then she says this.

“And to think.  I had just told Him (my brother) the other day how much I loved that water cooler, and how good the water tasted!  And now.  It’s gone.  Just like that.”

We talked for a bit about the ways in which this seems to happen quite often to her, dear Mom.  And we both got to thinking of particular stories just lately in which Mom has specifically lost something dear to her heart that she had made a point of being thankful for.  For instance.  The time when she had just finished saying a little prayer of thanks for the small electric heater in her bedroom that had been given to her as a gift.  And then literally, five minutes later, it made a noise and blew a fuse.

And that was the end of that little luxury.

Or this one.  The day last fall when my mother was caring for some of her six grandbabies and the older ones took an hour to run wildly through the field behind her house.  And so did she.  And when she stopped to catch her breath, in those precious moments in which this special memory transpired, she stopped to also say a quick prayer that went something like this: “Thank you God that I can still run with my grandkids, and that I have the energy to move in this way.”  And how not long after, she hit her leg hard on a bench in her home and injured it permanently.  So that she has never been able to run again in this manner.

And to think.  She had just stopped to breathe a prayer of gratitude for this also.

Mom jokingly added this thought: “That’s why I never say thanks to God for my four children! (who knows what would happen if I did?)”

She jests.  Of course she does, say ‘thanks’.

But what of the Others who do so also?  Those Significant Others in my life who have said countless ‘thanks’ for that precious of all gifts, a child, only to lose that very gift of which they uttered words of gratitude.  That Father awakened at midnight by two police officers telling him that his beloved daughter had been in a car crash and was now gone into eternity.  That Mother also receiving her bitter news, only this time it was a daughter maimed and her near–to-birth baby in utero, dead.   That Man who loved his job but lost it, all because of Parkinson’s.  That Boy who lost his eyesight.  That Girl who sits day after day in a wheel chair, only to have food trickle out of her mouth even as someone spoons it in, her eyes crusted over from infection.  Her head indented from where the snow plow blade sliced skin and bone.

These all.  Prayed over, and with thankful hearts, beloved.  But life, and love and livelihood taken anyway.  Even in the midst of gratitude and thankfulness.

The questions pile over and over in my head, tumbling in a free fall as if they have reached a precipice and due to forces of nature, have fallen over the edge.  And so might I, sometime.  But for the grace of God.

And all these questions beg an even greater question.  Were these people, these things, this precious stuff of which we make our lives so wonderful and rich, were they ever ours to begin with?  And is anything ever really ours?  Do we hold in our possession any thing, any one?  Can we lay claim to anything…ever?  What can we hold as our own?

Job 1:18-21 (NIV)

“While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house.  It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!  At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.  Then he fell to the ground in worship and said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

I am not Job.  Nor do I have the wisdom of Solomon.  Neither am I a staunch gratitude champion or a simple idealist.  But when I think about gratefulness, I think that this thankful-spiritedness means this: acknowledging what I have (nothing), what I owe (everything) and why I am grateful (because all of life, from the brevity to the length of it, from the richness to the poverty of it, from the joy to the sorrow of it, it is all His).

And because all of life is a gift, I am grateful.  And even in this one small thing, in the acknowledgement of so great a truth, we can give thanks.  Even when the asking is hard.  And even when the answers never come.

Ten Things That Restored My Faith in Humanity…

In wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conneticutt, U.S.A., there have been waves of anger and sorrow washing over us all.  Young and old.  Rich and poor.  Believer and non-believer.    Pain spares no one its icy grip; it holds us ransom with vice-like shackles.  The world over, we are united in our grief.  And oh, how it hurts to see those little faces flash across the screen, knowing that their precious souls will never see the light of Christmas.  They will never feel a mother’s warmth, a father’s embrace.  There will be no tomorrow, just heart-aching yesterdays.  And within this train of thought, one can easily fall prey to the mindset that there is little good left in this world.  A world where twenty innocent children, along with their heroic teachers, were brutally murdered in such horrific manner is hard to reckon with.

Recently, I came across the “26 Moments That Restored Our Faith in Humanity This Year” that has been floating around the Internet.  And then the“24 Photos That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity” came up in a search as did “22 Random Acts of Kindness That will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.” It was as if these sites popped up for such a time as this: when the world over finds itself in bleak mid-winter, the sun comes out and shines across the shadows.  Illuminating the landscape with light and hope.  These  videos, quotes, stories and pictures have created such a sensation in the fact that they are willingly going against the tide of popular consensus, that they are worth their own mention individually.  When all else seems lost, there will always be a good news story to bring things back around to the right perspective.

My friend newly began a list along the same vein as the ones mentioned above in which she names the specific things people have done and are still doing in our own local area to restore faith in humanity and all that is good and pure in this world.  Some of the things she mentioned in her list that are restoring our local faith in the goodness of the people of West Prince are as follows:

1. The Helping Hands Band (a local band in our area that sings for benefits) which did a concert each Saturday to raise funds for off-island medical care.
2. Every church in West Prince, P.E.I. that has been diligent in having food drives or adopting families for Christmas.
3. The countless turkeys (For the CBC Turkey Drive) that have been delivered from West Prince and eventually back to West Prince.
4. When I saw an older gentlemen at Save Easy with debilitating arthritis in his hands and asked him where he got his new gloves, he said gloves are delivered to his door each year at this time.
5. Each week there is a benefit for someone in need. Thousands of dollars are raised. We give without question.   Most times we give even if we have little to give.
6. My neighbors had a sick dog and took him to the Vet College and literally are nursing him back to health day and night.  On little sleep.
7. There are women who volunteer @ Maplewood Manor to give hot wax hand massages to the elderly people to help with severe joint pain.
8. The Westisle Composite High School  students who have been diligent with raising monies for various charities.
9. An intellectually challenged girl in the area who visits 3 older siblings each week to share her beautiful spirit with them. To laugh and love with them.

I added number ten with this statement:

10. The students at Bloomfield Elementary had a toy drive and were able to more than assist Kids West in their Christmas Hamper Project.

 

The thing is.  If we were all to start naming the wonderful things that are happening around us in our own localities, we might be able to accomplish much more than we could imagine.  Dare I think it, even a paradigm shift.  And if that were to happen, the things which seem so evil and powerful might begin to lose their sway over us.  And we might be free to forgive, accept and move forward rather than live in a world that only looks back.  Because as important as that is, it only serves to knock down our faith.  Undermining us in the process.  Throwing us off track.  And what the world needs right now is restoration, not revenge.  We need child-like faith in all that is Good and Pure and Holy.  And when all else fails, we need Love to cover over a multitude of sins.

At the end of the day, Goodness is more powerful in gentle humility than raw terror.  The Good that is found in faith, (that is, the faith we have in God and in the humanity He created),  has the sustaining power to unite and propel nations and peoples forward in the common goal of truth-finding.  And it can happen one person at a time.  One changed mindset can influence one thousand.

And it starts with one little list that has the power to inspire a thousand.  One shared story at a time.

What if there were no Christmas?

What if there were no Christmas?   There would be no catch-phrases like:  Just believe!, You’d Better watch Out! and Peace on Earth- Goodwill toward Men!   Why would one need to believe any more or any less on December 25th than they would any other day of the year?  And why the focus on peace?  On goodwill?

What if Christmas was no more?  There would be no great need for focusing on giving.  Nor a need to show extra cheer and joy.   No need for food, festivities and fun.   Why bother?  Christmas would just be another random day.  It would be no different than the 25th of any other month.

A few Christmases ago, a family member was unable to make it home for the holidays.  Instead, they chose to not celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense, sleeping in late that day to distract from the reality of a year without Christmas revelry.  That Christmas was rather sad for everyone in our immediate family.  Sad, because we missed this person around the table, as did they miss being with us.  Sad too because traditions were broken with the absence of a loved family member.  And furthermore, sad because it became apparent that Christmas could be skipped.  Something my childhood mind had never considered.

For in all the years I had celebrated Christmas, I had not imagined it possible that December 25th could be anything but an extraordinary, significant day. A day of wonder, magic and excitement.  A day of love, generosity and goodwill.  A day when mere mortals transcend the ordinary and merge with the supernatural.    A day of miraculous birth in a lowly shed, heralded by angels, led by a star.   The very meaning and intent of Christmas is to witness the remarkable.   That particular year of which I speak, I had a stark realization:  Christmas is what you make of it.  And when nothing is made, Christmas must cease to be.

Years later, I have grappled with ebb and flow of Christmas cheer.  Some years I am up for it.  Some years, not so much.  There were the years I was pregnant and exhausted.  Then came the early parenting years when our children were still waking at all hours of the night.  And now, here we are in the heart of the growing-up years when life is on speed-dial and everything seems to race past me while I stand in a confused daze.  Life sometimes robs the joy of everyday living, let alone the joy and wonder of Christmas.

But I have come to a greater realization than my first epiphany, and it is this.  Christmas is.  Period.  Nothing I can do or not do can erase Christmas.  It cannot be wiped off the calendar, although it can be left uncelebrated.  It cannot be eradicated.   Ignored.  Left unrecognized.  For everywhere one goes this time of year, Christmas is.  And while at times Christmas preparations can seem a burden, the true spirit of Christmas is so much more.   That spirit is found in the desire within the hearts and minds of all humankind  to show a sense of goodwill and brotherly love, all while recognizing the deeper reason for the season was a love story, indeed a rescue plan for all mankind.  A plan borne out of peace and love and hope.  A humble plan that has forever changed the way we examine our lives.

And yes, while Christmas is still what we make of it- or not, it can be so much more when what we make of it is purposeful to our lives.  Christmas has become something of a construct with the dominance of the secular side of Christmas in popular culture.  And yet, the true spirit of Christmas is something far greater than mere presents on Christmas morning and a turkey dinner later that day.   For Christmas is derived from the very heart of God.  And as such it requires a mindset that willingly transcends the reality of our everyday lives.  A mindset which is able to create within us the desire for something bigger than ourselves.  Something more.

The spirit of Christmas.  No tragedy on earth is so great it can shut the door on that which restores our faith in humanity as is the way of Christmas cheer and goodwill.  No atrocity, no natural disaster, no personal trauma is so big that the spirit of Christmas cannot reach down and touch a chord.  That a baby in a manger is able to touch our lives in so poignant a way still today tells us much about the importance of Christmas.  We can still hold to the faith that there is good in this world, and what better time of year to remind ourselves of this fact than at Christmas.

What if there were no Christmas?  December 25th  would just be another random day.  And humankind might never come to understand what it means to believe in something greater than themselves,  something altogether wonderful and mystical.  Extraordinary.   Something so small as a gesture or a thought, yet bigger than the sometimes horrifying reality of our everyday world.  For this is the miracle of Christmas, and it will live on inside those who truly believe.  For Christmas is.  And it always will be.