Christmas-time is a comfort to me. It has been since I was a child. Even when my Mama died on Christmas day, this time of year is still a comfort. While she spent December in the hospital, the long drive back and forth was made easier by the carols on the radio. What other time of year would have inspirational music non-stop on every channel? There were shooting stars--so many that December. Everywhere there were signs. Promises.
It was bitterly cold. Zero for days on end. I shopped for presents; I bought one for Mama, an angel with satin wings that I brushed against her face.
Last night, as the memorial service for the devastated residents of Newtown, Connecticut, was happening, two Topeka police officers were murdered in the line of duty. One was a veteran, both of the armed forces and of years in the department. He has a son who is a police officer as well. The other fallen officer is "just getting started," as the police chief said. On the force for 18 months. There was a search all night long and this morning we woke to the news that the suspect had been captured, perhaps shot. Has the whole world just gone crazy?
It seems to us that we live in extraordinarily violent times. In some ways, we do. But we cannot lose our perspective. I study history because it gives me hope. We are blessed with so many more advantages, more peace and prosperity, than any generation in history-- ANY generation in history. What are we doing with those blessings? Even our poor have a higher standard of living than millions of people who have gone before or who live in other parts of the world now. This is not to diminish, in any way, anyone's suffering now. But, with this in mind, we should not lose sight of what and who is good, and there is much.
Let there be peace on earth, let it begin with me.
In studying history, there are countless, countless episodes of unspeakable evil and cruelty. We must know that they have been overcome, again and again, and that we, too, can overcome. Not just survive, not just get through it, we can overcome. We can conquer.
Love is not a pastel word. It is bright red, solid as a rock, powerful as a rocket. It is the word of creation, not destruction, and it takes so much more energy to build than to tear down. That is the energy we must tap into and perpetuate, and celebrate.
When you see the lights, the greenery, the red ribbons, the candles, the carolers--take courage from these symbols. Christmas is not just a warm, fuzzy holiday. Christmas is symbolic of mankind's hope for a better world, not just in the next world, but in this one as well. That first story of Christmas brought royalty to worship the humble, to seek strength and wisdom from a child.
Be kind, and be stout of heart. There is much work to be done, and we must sustain one another in hope and faith. We must be better, do better. And we can.
God bless us all.