Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Boughs of Holly"

I have a new meditation area. It's my drive between the school on Woodland and the school on St. John. It's become the stretch of commute where I do by best thinking.
Now, I have to be pretty careful about deep ponderings, as I drive this stretch of city streets, because I have to watch out for copper thieves, possible dead bodies, police cars and the dreaded "traffic circle". It's a rough neighborhood, folks.
Anyway, earlier this week, as I drove along the Avenue, I noticed piles of colorful material spread out on several lawns. It took me a minute to realize (no flashing lights or visible crime tape) that they were the deflated remains of Christmas Inflatables. And, a morose sadness overcame me. I almost had to pull over and stop. But, given the wee hour of morning and the desertedness of the street, I sensibly kept on driving.
Anyway, in the daytime, the lighted night-time blow-ups of Santas, Snowmen, and even Nativity Scenes are just piles of sad and limp material. Isn't this the way we often feel when the holidays come to an end?
We've worked days and days on the preparation, the presents, and the food. Then suddenly, it's all done. Stick a fork in it.
Now what? It's back to everyday life. The lights and fans are turned off. We've lost the Christmas Spirit.

Tiny Baby God, help us to keep the Spirit of the Season year round. You don't leave us. Why should we abandon you? Just because the radio ceases to play Christmas music, doesn't mean that the true meaning of Christmas is over.
God, can you remind me, every so often, to "Deck the Halls"? Just a nudge would keep me INFLATED for the next 10 months or so. I am truly blessed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Angels we have heard on high..."

Several years ago, I informed some close girlfriends that I did not believe in angels. Well, they were horrified and they proceeded to relate personal encounters with their "guardian angels". I was more than willing to listen to their stories, but I told them that I just couldn't attribute "godlike...savior like" qualities to anything but God. At the end of the discussion, we agreed to disagree.
In recent weeks, I have decided that angels do exist. According to the original Biblical definition, angels are messengers sent by God to tell mortals things that God wants us to hear. Humans don't really react well to burning bushes or direct words from God's mouth. So, God sends us messengers.
In my opinion, an angel can be anyone. They don't have wings or halos. An angel can be a preacher or a salesclerk or even a grandchild. But, they do bring messages. Often times, the messages are silent or are shown to us by example. But they are there.
Sometimes the message is... wake up and smell the roses! Or, maybe it's.... slow down. Or maybe it's....enjoy today. That message could be....accept. God tells us many things by using his angels.

Happy birthday, Jesus. Your messengers are all around us. Guide us to be receptive to your messages. We need to listen.

Friday, December 17, 2010

All Wrapped Up

Operation Santa Claus is a wrap! For four days, our clients picked up their new clothing, Hallmark festooned presents and groceries. Folks along "The Avenue" will have warm and full bodies, thanks to our staff and several hundred volunteers.

Many corporations and individuals contributed money and items to our Holiday Distribution. Nearly 1500 families received the bounty. The outpouring of new toys was amazing. Believe me, I now know how much space 200 Candy Land games, stacked in piles of ten, takes up! And, baby dolls and Barbies by the dozens. Have you even seen a thousand Match Box Cars in one place?

Charity is easy at Christmas, isn't it? We Christians love to give at Christmas time. Sometimes I think that we choose to give to the less fortunate, because it makes the gifts we buy our friends and family seem less extravagant.

Now, don't get me wrong. There is a need for warm clothes and full tummies on December 25th. And, every kid needs some new toys under the tree. But, what about the rest of the year? Please, Christians, don't forget about empty cupboards in February, in April and even in August.

God, you have blessed us with many wonderful things. Our Christmas Celebration at the Kincaid Kastle, will be glorious. Our stockings will be full to the brim. We will be blessed with four generations around our Christmas table, including two new grand babies. We will all eat so much that we'll complain about it.
Your love touches everyone, everywhere. Help us to remember that we need to reach out to touch others, all twelve months of the year.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Open my eyes, that I might see..."

For the past week, I have been very busy preparing for the distribution of gifts, groceries, toys, and clothes for Operation Santa Claus. Volunteers and staff, at the Mission, have been caught up in the purchasing and wrapping of 1600 this and 1600 that. We are determined to make sure that we have enough items for every member of our 1600 client families.
We have wrapped 1600 pair of gloves for women, 1600 pair of gloves for men, and the same number of note cards, manicure sets, socks, and calendars. Then we have bagged up sweat shirts and pants, underwear and socks for 3000 kids. A company donated 500 teenager bags.
the numbers are overwhelming. Toy donations are steadily coming in. We have been so busy.
So, I am tired and more than a little testy, after over a week of preparation. My Holiday Sprit is wearing thin.
Then today, I met Phu, a student at a local college who came in to do some "required" volunteer work. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that he worked very hard packing the grocery bags for our clients.
Later, as we rested, I thanked him for coming in today. He said, "I am glad I came in. You know, this means a lot to me. I am an immigrant and we had Christmas, when I was a child, because of a mission just like this."

God, I am so humbled by your goodness. Thank you for putting me in a place where I can meet people like Phu. My blessings are great. Help me to keep my eyes and my heart open.