Connecting Advent and Christmas
Not posting to pay my respects to those killed in gun violence has resulted in very few posts these last six months, I am sad to report. The loss of life is tragic. The failure to prevent such is inexcusable. In the past thirty days the following gun-related incidents occurred:
|Incident Date||State||City Or County||Address||# Killed||# Injured|
|December 22, 2019||Maryland||Baltimore||225 Park Ave||0||7|
|December 22, 2019||Minnesota||Minneapolis (Spring Lake Park)||8407 Plaza Blvd NE||1||7|
|December 22, 2019||Illinois||Chicago||5700 block of S May St||0||13|
|December 21, 2019||Mississippi||Waynesboro||Turner St||1||6|
|December 20, 2019||Alabama||Tuskegee||2900 block of Davison St||2||2|
|December 18, 2019||Texas||San Antonio||2418 SW Military Dr||0||4|
|December 17, 2019||Montana||Great Falls||1701 10th Ave S||4||1|
|December 15, 2019||Georgia||Columbus||600 block of 32nd St||1||4|
|December 14, 2019||California||Ivanhoe||15700 block of Paradise Ave||0||4|
|December 12, 2019||Missouri||Saint Louis||9900 block of Lewis and Clark Blvd||1||3|
|December 10, 2019||New Jersey||Jersey City||223 Martin Luther King Dr||6||3|
|December 8, 2019||Texas||Desoto||200 block of W Wintergreen Rd||2||3|
|December 8, 2019||Louisiana||New Orleans||3801 Washington Ave||1||4|
|December 6, 2019||Florida||Pensacola||280 Taylor Rd||4||8|
|December 4, 2019||Alabama||Montgomery||500 Eastdale Rd S||2||2|
|December 1, 2019||Louisiana||Cotton Valley||116 Hawthorne Loop||2||3|
|December 1, 2019||Louisiana||New Orleans||2000 block of N Dorgenois St||2||2|
|December 1, 2019||Illinois||Aurora||700 block of S 5th St||1||4|
|December 1, 2019||Michigan||Kalamazoo||6300 block of Proctor St||1||3|
|December 1, 2019||Louisiana||New Orleans||700 block of Canal St||0||12|
|November 30, 2019||Arkansas||Hensley||6500 block of E Sardis Rd||0||5|
|November 29, 2019||Texas||Amarillo||2650 Dumas Dr||0||7|
|November 27, 2019||New York||Bronx||E 153rd St and Courtlandt Ave||0||5|
|November 25, 2019||Florida||Brownsville||NW 29th Ave and 44th St||2||2|
|November 24, 2019||Alabama||Birmingham||7 15th St W||1||4|
For the past five years we have explored the connections we have with others. We’ve woven stories, explored through literature, exchanged recipes, and traveled the world seeking sacred places and artifacts. Advent is a time of preparation but it seems to have been a time this year of obliteration.
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” The spiritualist Rumi gave us our challenge. However, I am not so concerned with you changing your views on gun ownership as I am about you finding value within yourself. We are all uniquely made individuals and we all have value. We each bring to the world special talents. Yes, women generally are the ones who bear children but men also bring unique abilities. Historically, though, men got all the attention.
In his book “Make the Most of You”, Patrick Lindsay quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” Lindsay mentions that there are three actions we all can participate in: leave everything better than how we found it; wear our scars proudly; unleash our own song. In this series, I want you to plant thoughts that will help you blossom. I want you to sing and sing your own individual song as it becomes harmonious with the rest of mankind.
Being an individual in this world is not easy. One of my favorite philosophers of the twentieth century was not a philosopher at all. She was an actress, the late and magnificently great Katharine Hepburn. “We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”
Colombian writer and reporter Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in his book “Love in the Time of Cholera” explains what we must realize in order to grow a better version of ourselves. We have to understand that “human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
Too many people go through life believing they are not good enough. Our journey is valuable and everyone’s presence on the planet is a gift. What we accomplish, though, is ours to make happen. Whether one works at home or on a global platform, is highly educated or has learned of living from life, we all have value. Every life matters. Life itself is a previous gift given to everyone, if they are lucky.
The Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Each is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative. Four of the blessings also appear in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke, followed by four woes which mirror the blessings. In a fourth century translation of the Bible, known as the Vulgate, each of the verses contained within what we call the “beatitudes” begins with the word “beati” which translates as happiness or blessed. Many use this group of scriptures to decry religion since they address groups normally isolated or rejected.
The Beatitudes show us that everything is good in its own way. The quiet have time to learn. Those that grieve had something or someone of value they loved. Those who seek righteousness will find it. We all have value. We all are good enough when we seek life in all its glory. Religion is not about separating and judging. It is, quite simply, about acceptance and embracing life – all of it, the good and the bad.
Oscar Wilde once said “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” We often look for the meaning of life and our purpose in exotic, extravagant, external environs. We really should just look in the mirror. None of us is perfect and none of us is a Supreme Being. To honor your own uniqueness does not mean to equate yourself with being a deity or with being egotistical or selfish. It does mean living according to your faith and celebrating life – the life within all of us.
You, like all of us, have much to offer and the world is waiting for it. Turn your back on doubt today. It serves no purpose. Focus on the positive and let your self-worth be the seed you plant to day in growing a better you and a better world. You are good enough to be the start of a better future for us all. You are a gift to the world. Celebrate yourself and find joy in living, please. Our world is waiting to celebrate you.