One of my first thoughts waking up Saturday morning was that it was already the second of December.
“Christmas. Or it might as well be,” I thought.
And it was a pure and simple thought. Not with the panic I should maybe have felt that there’s much to do and not much time to do it. Instead it was a rather comforting thought because right now, when things seem sort of spinning faster than ever before toward an unknown that to me – at least – seems more frightening than I can remember. We need a recluse of twinkle lights and Christmas carols, celebrations of things beyond this earth, stories of hope and caring, opportunities to maybe – just maybe – be a little kinder and more charitable toward one another.
I thought of that passage in C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” where Lucy contemplates the wretchedness of it being “always winter, but never Christmas” and became so very glad our winter has a Christmas.
For more than a year now, I’ve kept a screen shot I took of a passage in Shane Blackshear’s blog (@beardonabike). That means I read it once, maybe several times a week, each time promising myself I’ll do better in the human “being” department. (Another of my teaching friends frequently suggests it isn’t enough to be a “human being,” our goal should be to be a “human doing.”)
Anyway, here’s the passage from Shane’s blog. “I have a strong conviction that the kingdom will be ushered in not by outrage at culture or even outrage at the outrage, but by Christians putting their heads down and quietly, consistently loving their neighbors.”
It works year-round, by the way. Not just at Christmas.
Maybe it’s been a getting older and too tired to fight process for me. I’ve all but stopped reading, listening or watching the news, or anything that’s being passed off as news. Yes, I’ve become a cynic, buying in at last to what some have always said, “Only half of what we hear (read or see) is true, and we have no way of knowing which half that is.”
Some things that seem to be true need to be fixed, or changed, but I am one in a pretty small circle, and it’s becoming increasingly evident that a number of very smart people don’t agree with me on the changes that should be made for the fix. Am I crazy, or does it seem in the last year we’ve all become more intolerant of one another? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.
The other day, the teacher in the Pre-K classroom where I am an instructional aide and I were talking about children in the class who might be chosen to be recipients for charitable gifts.
I sighed and said, “The odd thing is, poor children today are not like poor children I knew growing up. The most desperate children we see have the newest shoes and the most material things. They need love. They need attention. They need adults in their lives who will take them to the park and push them in the swing; who have time to read a story to them over and over; who aren’t working night and day so the children have a proper bedtime; and who have food for dinner that’s not from a fast-food sack that they eat in the backseat of their car.”
And I added, “The poor children I knew growing up only lacked in material things – and the ones I know, still, did alright for themselves. They’re teachers, professionals, kind and caring people.”
My happiness comes in doing what I can. Teaching the children in front of me, loving them as I am able; serving breakfast to the hungry and homeless on Sunday, not condemning them for their life choices and problems that put them in that situation.
Today, we will celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, and light the candle of “hope.” It is a beautiful word, and like a winter without Christmas, I don’t want to live in a world without hope.
In closing, my hope – paraphrased slightly from a meme on social media – is that when the world feels too loud, we can become quiet and listen to one another; when the world feels too violent, we will be peaceful and offer each other safety; when the world seems evil, we will be good; because the harder life is, the softer, kinder, gentler, more caring, tolerant and loving we must become.
Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is a freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin and the San Angelo Standard-Times, each unique to the particular paper. She can be reached at email@example.com.