Monday, December 10, 2012
On Life, and Christmas And Miracles
One of the reasons Christians revere the Christmas season is because we are given the opportunity each year to marvel at the miracle life of Jesus of Nazareth. To you nonbelievers, who artfully dispute the concept of a virgin birth, or that Jesus was indeed the son of God, you must at least concede the miraculous legacy of a man who spoke softly, who acted compassionately toward his fellow man, and whose teachings are still with us more than 2,000 years after his death. That's a pretty impressive resume for anyone.
And it is altogether fitting that we look upon Christmas as "prime time" for miracles. We need only to open our daily newspaper and read some recounting of a "grand gesture"; a story where the goodwill of the Christmas season has prompted some divine gesture from one human being to another. Across America this Christmas, we will serve millions of free meals to the homeless and destitute. Warm blankets and socks will be distributed to those sleeping on cold park benches and under highway overpasses. A "secret Santa" will emerge to buy toys for needy children and thousands of good will "wise men" will step up to a Walmart counter and pay off someone's layaway bill.
But it is the true "wise men" who recognize that it is the thousands of small miracles we experience in our lives that are of the greatest worth. And, when we are truly attuned to the reality of those small miracles, that is when our lives become enriched far beyond our own capacity to do so ourselves.
I have been blessed by the ability to recognize the difference between the great miracles and those that, if we fail to take the time to recognize them, seem simply a matter of good fortune. Yes, I've been blessed with many small miracles and some very large miracles in my lifetime. I've written about many of them. Many of them went unrecognized at the moment of their occurrence. But my creator has blessed me with the ability to reflect back, and see that miracles occurred with both answered and unanswered prayers.
I've found that the smallest and most important miracles came from the people who touched my life, whose influence on my life path proved to be so valuable to my happiness. Some were teachers who inspired my love of learning, some were friends who picked me up when I was down, but most of the small miracles came from family...who extended love and concern, and perhaps a nudge or two to move me down a happier or safer path.
And so, at Christmas time, our hearts and souls are more closely attuned toward acknowledging the smaller miracles in our lives. It is a season of reflection as we remember past Christmases that we shared with our loved ones; a mother who sacrificed for me...who gave me unconditional love, a brother or sister who garnished my youth with love and loyalty and commitment, to a friend who gave me comfort and drove away the darkness for awhile. At Christmas we honor those "miracle makers" who are no longer with us, but who dwell in our hearts until the heart at last ceases to beat.
If one can overcome the cynicism of the ever-increasing commercialism of Christmas, if we can value all of life's smaller miracles as well as we value material gifts, we will have truly learned the true meaning of the Christmas season.
As I sit here writing this, I look about me, and within me, and like a huge pile of gaily wrapped presents, I see the great bounty of love extended to me throughout my life by those who have meant the most to me. And, just as I would thank any gift giver, I extend my deepest appreciation for those who've helped to enrich my life in both small and large ways.
I could wish no greater gift to you this Christmas season than my wish that you too are attuned to the "miracle workers" who enriched your life as well.