Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Half Alive?"

"So are you 49 or 50 this year?" came the question last week at a holiday get together.  In an ill attempt at humor, I answered, "I'll be half dead on the 28th."  "Half dead, ...or half alive?" came my friend's response, causing me to do a quick psychic self evaluation.  As I inventoried my personal vault of "what's going on with you's", I suddenly found my comment much less humorous than unsettling when put into proper holiday perspective.
     When the news seems extra ordinarily full of negatives in what should be the happiest time of the year, it's sometimes hard to see life as half lived rather than half gone.  The truth of the matter is that the raging battle between good and bad in the world is still being won by good, yet for some reason we allow our attention and focus to remain riveted on obscenity rather than the virtue.
     My thought is that we must consciously tear our eyes away from the carnage of life's train wrecks, and look instead at the busy rescuers, who rush in and through the wreckage, giving aid, comfort and lifting the spirits of hapless victims.  With every news cast, on every facebook page, amidst thousands of tweets, in supermarkets, on the streets, in shelters and charities, Virtuous people champion goodness in our human cause, even while all around them their attempt to change the world appears hopeless.
     For the past week, gifts have been showing up on our doorstep counting down the days of Christmas, while all around, in neighborhoods, churches and businesses, hearts and minds have been uniting to lift struggling families.  Family and friends have reached out to each other with loving and compassionate service, while school children have collected food for the food bank.  Still, there are those among us who suffer unnoticed, quietly in their own private form of despair.  As a whole, we are pretty good at identifying the physical needs of those who are willing to let them be known, but to become conscious of less obvious financial, spiritual, and emotional distresses, we have to tune ourselves in a little different way.
     A close friend called me the other day wanting to get together.  "I've had an impression all week," he said, "...and I'd hate myself if you need me, and I didn't answer the call."  Well, I did need him, but like many people, I keep personal struggles hidden from public view, and only share them with God hoping that he will somehow come to my aid.  
     Sunday night, I gathered with my parents and siblings for our annual dinner together.  It was a wonderful night, lending an emotional support unique only to family, that I had been starving for.  It may sound silly that a fifty year old man needed his mother, but I surely did, and sitting next to her, holding her hand, while basking in the safe, comfortable, nurture of loved ones seemed nearly perfect.  It's unfortunate that as children of God, we don't always view each other as brother's and sisters, ...moms, dads, and grandparents.  We do a pretty good job with our universal love for children, but it's with each other that I think we need to adopt a different perspective.  As for me, I just want to say thanks to you who have already done this, who listen with your hearts and act.  I for one have been richly blessed by you.
     Merry Christmas everybody, and God bless you 

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