From your Temporary Shepherd…….
I must admit to having mixed feelings about seeing all the decorations that go up in November – sometimes even October. It seems to happen earlier every year – the beautiful fall season is brought to an abrupt end much too soon by the appearance of trees, elves, wreaths, wrappings, and continual reminders of how many shopping days are left till Christmas. Thanksgiving Day itself has become the marker for the beginning of the holiday shopping season!
The other side of this, of course, is that anything which reminds me of the birth of Christ is a welcome and wonderful thing. The world needs this reminder – this story – more than ever before. It is a time to remember the significance of this child – that he taught us a new way to live – out of love rather than fear, under grace instead of under the law. Anything which brings him to mind gladdens our hearts and strengthens our spirits – even decorations put up much too early for my liking.
But this year, everything is different. Halloween is different, Thanksgiving is different, even Christmas will be different. Will there be many gathered around our table, as in previous years? Will we be able to celebrate with family and friends? Will our shopping habits, for food or gifts, be the same as before? The news is already filled with stories of people “stocking up” for winter.
The reality is, there’s not much in this season that encourages us to focus on God’s gifts to us, and to reflect on all of our blessings as the Thanksgiving season comes near. But this is indeed the time to pay attention to God’s presence in our lives – to look for ways in which God’s spirit touches us each day – especially during this challenging time, this “Caronatide.”
Some of my friends make “gratitude lists”, writing down one thing they are thankful for every day. I will admit I’ve never done this. It’s not that I’m not thankful enough, I’m not organized enough. Others put something aside – an item of food, or clothing, every day to give to a mission at the end of the month. Others make time to be still and prayerful to keep themselves centered – and as Henri Nouwen observed, “Make room in your heart for God and let God cherish you.”
An intentional spirit of gratitude helps lift our spirits, reduce anxiety, and temper the anger we may have because things are not the way we want them to be. There is always something to be grateful for – even now.
I look forward to celebrating this special season with you!
Grateful for you all!