Mindfulness at Christmas

Mindfulness at Christmas

2018.12.22-24

Everyday Miracles

Advent 2018

 

A child shivers in a cold room, watching for a sign of a better tomorrow.  A teenager creeps out of the shadows to rummage through a garbage bin outside a closed restaurant.  A woman is walking out to her car in a busy mall parking lot and suddenly feels her purse snatched off her shoulder.  A man stumbles home after working two jobs, wondering how to explain to his family that Christmas will not be like the ones in the store windows.  These are often the bleak picture of Christmas that make one wonder if there really is a reason for the season.

 

We forget, though, that somewhere a child is sharing their holiday by donating to a local charity.  That a group of teenagers is wrapping presents at a local store to earn money to buy Christmas dinners for the homeless.  A stranger has stopped to help the woman whose purse was snatched while another chases after the thief and calls law enforcement.  The father returns home to see his children making their own presents and years from now, those will be the ones kept and treasured.  The trappings of Christmas have only the hold on us that we allow.  We make the holiday have meaning by how we live it.

 

This post is being published a day late on purpose to prove my point.  Whether or not we accomplished everything on our to-do list or not, the clock kept ticking and Christmas has arrived.  The season of Advent is about preparing but sometimes we forget what comes next.  Are we running away from Christmases past?  Is our expectation for Christmas Present realistic?  Have we given up and sworn off any Christmas Futures?

 

Mindfulness can be structured meditation or simply a calmer way of living that helps us break habitual patterns of thinking that usually serve no useful purpose except to create more stress and greater unhappiness.  The easiest mindfulness practice is to simply sit quietly for several minutes.  IN the midst of holiday mayhem, the easiest place to find those few minutes of calm might be the toilet, a bedroom, or even a shower or bath.  Then you just have to breathe.  Easy, right?  I mean, you are already breathing so just do it with thoughtfulness.  Focus on the movement of air going into your nose and then visualize it in your throat and chest.  Then exhale and reverse the process.  By being fully present in your breathing, you have stopped negative thoughts and are no longer clinging to those causing anxiety.

 

The holidays seem to intensify the mind wandering we do as we go about our daily activities.  Odds are you are doing one thing right now and thinking of at least three others you need to do.  Having spent the past month preparing, take time today to be present in the moment.  Right now notice the sights and smells around you, paying attention completely and with the utmost concentration.  Perhaps today will go perfectly but even if it doesn’t, take a few moments to breathe and give thanks that you can.  Life is a beautiful gift in and of itself.

A Bi-Polar Holiday, Part Two

A Bi-Polar Holiday, part two

2018.12.08-12

Everyday Miracles

Advent 2018

 

The story of two people about to have a child traveling is not that unusual.  Thousands are doing just that south of the US border along Texas west to Arizona and California at this very minute, having left their homeland because of political unrest, threats of death, or lack of living conditions that make living sustainable.  Hopefully most are not about to give birth but some might be. 

 

Many would argue that what makes the Nativity Story important is that the child was the Son of God.  However, that very child grew up to become a man who made it his life’s work to preach that we all are sons and daughters of God.  He lived showing love to all, especially those disenfranchised by society.  You could honestly say that most if not all of his actions were everyday miracles. 

 

Those of the Christian faith put great stock in the Nativity Story, the story of Mary and Joseph who traveled a great distance, not in the easiest of circumstances, to be registered on the census rolls.  Without doing so, they would be without verification, a couple without a country so to speak.  There is some discrepancy within the Bible about this story, I should note. 

 

 The Gospel According to St Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph travelled from Galilee to Bethlehem because of a Roman census during the time Quirinius was governor of Syria. This census took place in the year 6 ACE, and the Jewish historian, Josephus, tells us that this was the first such census that affected the Jews. A paradox in this passage comes from the fact that we also know that King Herod the Great died in 4 BCE, some 10 years before the census. Moreover, it is highly improbably that such a census would include Judea, since Herod was empowered to raise his own taxes and was not required to report on the population or wealth of his dominion.  

 

The Gospel According to St Matthew provides a different telling of this story and it suggests that Mary and Joseph did not travel from Galilee at all. Bethlehem was their home town, and the wise men found Jesus in a house, not a manger. The family fled to Egypt to avoid the Slaughter of the Innocents and returned to Judea after the death of Herod. But when Joseph heard that Herod’s son, Archelaus, had succeeded to the throne, he turned aside and went to Galilee and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, thus fulfilling the prophecy that Jesus would be called a Nazarene.

 

Like many myths, there is some truth, some storytelling embellishment, and some history in the Nativity Story.  At this time of the year when rather than experience joy, many feel depression, it is of great use to explore the reality of the time period.  In 2011 Justin Taylor wrote a very interesting article regarding the political scene of Galilee and Judea at the time of the birth of the baby Jesus.  He quotes historian R. T. France in his article. 

 

“The northern province of Galilee was decisively distinct—in history, political status, and culture—from the southern province of Judea which contained the holy city of Jerusalem.  Racially the area of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel had had, ever since the Assyrian conquest in the eighth century B.C., a more mixed population, within which more conservative Jewish areas (like Nazareth and Capernaum) stood in close proximity to largely pagan cities, of which in the first century the new Hellenistic centers of Tiberias and Sepphoris were the chief examples.  Geographically Galilee was separated from Judea by the non-Jewish territory of Samaria, and from Perea in the southeast by the Hellenistic settlements of Decapolis.

 

“Politically Galilee had been under separate administration from Judea during almost all its history since the tenth century B.C. (apart from a period of “reunification” under the Maccabees), and in the time of Jesus it was under a (supposedly) native Herodian prince, while Judea and Samaria had since A.D. 6 been under the direct rule of a Roman prefect.  Economically Galilee offered better agricultural and fishing resources than the more mountainous territory of Judea, making the wealth of some Galileans the envy of their southern neighbors. 

 

“Culturally Judeans despised their northern neighbors as country cousins, their lack of Jewish sophistication being compounded by their greater openness to Hellenistic influence.  Linguistically Galileans spoke a distinctive form of Aramaic whose slovenly consonants (they dropped their aitches!) were the butt of Judean humor.  Religiously the Judean opinion was that Galileans were lax in their observance of proper ritual, and the problem was exacerbated by the distance of Galilee from the temple and the theological leadership, which was focused in Jerusalem.”

 

Today many people are discriminated against because of their religion.  This was also true of the man we call Jesus.  According to R. T. France, “even an impeccably Jewish Galilean in first-century Jerusalem was not among his own people; he was as much a foreigner as an Irishman in London or a Texan in New York. His accent would immediately mark him out as “not one of us,” and all the communal prejudice of the supposedly superior culture of the capital city would stand against his claim to be heard even as a prophet, let alone as the “Messiah,” a title which, as everyone knew, belonged to Judea (cf. John 7:40-42).  The man for whom we celebrate his birth was very much a stranger among even his own people and at this time of the year, many feel exactly the same way. 

 

Mathematician Blaise Pascal believed “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it cannot be filled by any created thing.”  He believed that by surrendering ourselves we would gain everything.  Pascal saw the gridlock of ego as the world’s biggest problem.  It would be an everyday miracle and the solution to this holiday that seems to celebrate and yet cause depression if we would liberate ourselves from the gridlock of our own ego.

 

 

 

A Bi-Polar Holiday, Part One

A Bi-Polar Holiday, part one

2018.12.08-11

Everyday Miracles

Advent 2018

 

It is a most contradictory time of the year.  In the Northern Hemisphere temperatures are at their coldest and yet, we celebrate the holidays that are designed to bring out the warmest feelings in us all.  At the very time of the year when Mother Nature is experiencing death, we celebrate birth and rebirth.  For many of us the weather is a bit shifty.  Some days are moderate in temperature and then within twenty-four hours, we can experience a climate change of magnitude proportions.

 

Bi-Polar Disorder is a mental health disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of abnormally elevated or happy moods.  During such periods of mania, the individual behaves or feels abnormally or unusually energetic, happy, or conversely, irritable or depressed.  These extreme mood swings create these episodes of emotional highs and lows and can create changes in sleep patterns, thought processes, eating, and other behaviors.

 

The very mention of Christmas or other winter holidays can bring about similar reactions in many people.  Those with a bi-polar diagnosis might experience such episodes during seasonal changes and the winter time in many areas is ripe for such.  For others, though, the holidays represent loss or failure.  Very few people get through the month of December without some type of anxiety or depression.

 

Christmas is a holiday based upon the past events that Christians believe tells the story of the birth of a baby named Jesus.  Hanukah is a holiday celebrating the story of one night’s worth of oil lasting for eight nights.  Both of these have elements of a miracle occurring but perhaps the greatest miracle is that these stories are still with us.  It can be difficult for some to find a bill they believed they paid three months ago and yet, these two stories have lasted over two thousand years.

 

The story of Hanukah does not appear in the Talmud, since it occurred after its writing.  It is, however, referred to in the New Testament when Jesus is described as attending a feast of rededication.  The events that inspired the Hanukkah holiday took place during a particularly turbulent phase of Jewish history. Around 200 B.C., Judea, known then as the Land of Israel, came under the control of Antiochus III, the Seleucid king of Syria, who allowed the Jews who lived there to continue practicing their religion. His son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, proved less benevolent: Ancient sources recount that he outlawed the Jewish religion and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C., his soldiers descended upon Jerusalem, massacring thousands of people and desecrating the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls. 

 

Led by the Jewish priest Mattathias and his five sons, a large-scale rebellion broke out against Antiochus and the Seleucid monarchy. When Matthathias died in 166 B.C., his son Judah, known as Judah Maccabee (“the Hammer”), took the helm; within two years the Jews had successfully driven the Syrians out of Jerusalem, relying largely on guerilla warfare tactics. Judah called on his followers to cleanse the Second Temple, rebuild its altar and light its menorah—the gold candelabrum whose seven branches represented knowledge and creation and were meant to be kept burning every night.  There was only enough untainted olive oil to burn for one night and yet, the flames continued flickering for eight nights, leaving them time to find a fresh supply of oil.

 

The celebrations of Hanukah for this year have just ended but the message burns brightly, even in the aftermath of the recent terroristic murders of eleven at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue.  Hanukkah is a joyous eight-day Festival of Lights in the Hebrew calendar. It is a time when Jews celebrate the Jewish victory over a tyrant king and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. 

 

We have a choice during this holiday season as to how we respond to the past, our present, and hopes for the future.  We can wallow in depression, lamenting the sins and problems of the past or we can choose to think positively and move forward with hope.  “Every person can be a small light,” said Hayley Miller, Associate Director of Digital and Social Media of the Human Rights Campaign nonprofit organization. “And just as the small quantity of oil that fueled the miracle of light for eight nights, when we are our authentic selves, we can be a beacon of light that shines.”

 

Figgy Pudding

Figgy Pudding

2018.11.15

Growing Community

 

In one week those living in the USA will celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  It will also be the official start of the holiday (i.e., Christmas) season.  In reality, though, the holiday shopping season began in mid-July as stores put out decorations and crafts ideas for gifts to be made.  Many people have been griping about seeing peppermint canes and holly wreaths while shopping for swimsuits or pumpkins but I am one of those who delights in seeing the Christmas cheer on display, even when the temperatures are over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

As we become fully entrenched in the holiday season, carols will be played and one of the more popular ones has a verse that implores…”So bring us some figgy pudding, so bring us some figgy pudding, so bring us some figgy pudding and put it right here.”  Savory puddings are less well known than their sweet counterparts but savory puddings like figgy pudding are actually not only older but why the community of mankind survived the ages.  The modern usage of the word pudding id used to denote primarily desserts however the word pudding is believed to come from the French “boudin”, originally from the Latin “botellus”, meaning “small sausage”, referring to encased meats.  The meats were encased in animal intestines to preserve them; such preservation meant the meats could be kept longer and thus provided sustenance during hard times or when one could not go hunting. 

 

The first record of plum or figgy pudding dates back to the fifteenth century when records indicate a plum pottage or mash was served at the beginning of the meal.  Plum was a generic term used to indicate any dried fruit and the fruits were combined with meat and root vegetables.  Commonly dried fruit of the period were raisins, currants, and prunes.  By the end of the sixteenth century, dried fruit was more plentiful and the plum or figgy pudding became more sweet than savory.  Pudding cloths became popular as the concoction would be wrapped in the cloth and no longer needed to depend on animal fat to hold together.  It is most likely that such is the early beginnings of dishes like the Scottish haggis and Pennsylvania Dutch hog maw – both savory casseroles prepared in either intestines or the lining from a pig’ stomach.

 

In 1647 the figgy pudding was so closely associated with the Christmas holidays that Prime Minister Oliver Cromwell had it banned.  The Puritanical Cromwell felt such harkened back to the Druids, paganism, and idolatry.  In 1660 when the English monarchy was restored, so were the traditions of Yule logs, nativity scenes,, Christmas carols, and the figgy pudding.  The Victorian era saw the figgy pudding achieve a position of prominence, thanks in no small part to Charles Dickens.  The first Christmas savings clubs were created to help poor housewives save for the figgy or Christmas pudding ingredients.  In the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the last Sunday before the Advent season contained a prayer that began “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people” and became known as “Stir-Up Sunday”.  Family members would take turn stirring the Christmas pudding which was then wrapped and boiled and set aside to mature until Christmas Day.  By the nineteenth century the traditional figgy pudding had become more of what we today call fruitcake, a mixture of brown sugar, raisins, currants, candied fruit, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, suet, and alcohol.

 

The Victorian citizens, the Christmas pudding was an analogy for their world view.  The British Empire consisted of savory bits from distant colonies all bound together by a settled atmosphere of All that was considered to be English.  One advantage of the Christmas pudding was the time it took to season and cure as well as the lengthy time it lasted.  This meant that soldiers deployed in far-off lands could enjoy this taste of home even if it took almost a year to receive it. 

 

I don’t mind the appearance of Christmas in July simply because I think it is always time to spread Christmas cheer.  Sadly, too often today our Christmas puddings are made in molds rather than the more organic shapes of the past.  While I admire the beauty of such molds, I do wonder if they serve to divide us instead of bringing us together.  We grow a community with the sharing of Christmas cheer and yet, if we expect that community to be perfect or everyone to fit in a mold, then we are self-defeating.

 

In growing a community we need to stir-up our diversities and celebrate our common denominators in solidifying our future.  The 1848 satirical cartoon once entitled “John Bull Showing the Foreign Powers How to Make a Constitutional Plum Pudding” seems sadly appropriate for our

modern times.  The cartoon illustration revealed a person preparing to carve a bulging, holly-adorned pudding labeled “Liberty of the Press”, “Trial by Jury”, “Common Sense”, and “Order”. 

 

Stir up, good people, the wills of your faith, so that they will bring forth the fruit of good works and therefore richly reward us all.   When we grow community we help ourselves to hear the call of goodness and practice such service as will benefit us all.  Whatever the weather or season, we need some figgy pudding, that combination of different things brought together for preservation and continuance of us all.

 

 

To Be; To Serve

To Be; To Serve

Christmas 8

 

We’ve spoken of the three holidays during this time and in some detail about Kwanzaa.  Tonight the eighth candle of Hanukah will be lit, each candle having significance in the commemoration of the miracle of the struggle of the Maccabees. 

 

Many believe Hanukah serves to remind us that life is a struggle and we find joy when we participate in that struggle.  Those that celebrate Hanukah often do so believing that, to quote Rabi Levi Ben Levy, “the past [serves] in a way that transforms who we are in the present, which in turn, affects what we may do in the future.  If you fight for life, salvation is won. It is in the victory of life that we find joy.”

 

The eight days of Hanukah are broken down into central concepts for each day.  One is concerned with their Creator, another in studying the oral and written tenets of the Judaic faith.  The third days recognizes that Judaism is an Abrahamic faith and those that follow it are children of Abraham, a belief shared by Christians and Muslims.  On the fourth day unity is emphasized, a unity that sadly has seldom been lived here on earth.

 

The fifth day is dedicated to the words of Moses and special note is made of the 365 positive commandments which correlate with the 365 days of the year.  The remaining 248 negative commandments some feel correspond with the same number of organs in the human body and this is used to illustrate the need for peace within and with one’s neighbors.

 

The sixth and seventh days are associated with creation, the six days the Hebrews and Christians belief in which creation took place of the earth, heavens, and all living things, as well as the seven orifices on the human face.  These orifices are considered gates through which things are taken in and are said to relate to the seven days of the week.

 

One could argue these points, especially those that reference the calendar because the Jewish faith does not follow the standard calendar.  On the Hebrew calendar this is Year 5777-8, for example.  They do have seven days a week and belief that the world was created in six days but comparisons could be difficult is one really delved into the subject.  Metaphors are good, though, and help us remember basic facts.

 

Life is difficult and whether one is struggling to make oil in a lamp last or stretch a dollar to cover all necessary items for living, such celebrations give us hope.  Even for those of us who are not Jewish, Hanukah serves to remind us of several important things.  First, that our faith is seen by all we encounter.  We wear it as visibly as we do our clothes.  The menorah is placed in a window so that all may see and know.  Our faith dictates our behavior and it is the walk we walk and not just the talk we talk that gives meaning to our beliefs.

 

My particular favorite thing of Hanukah is the Shamash candle.   It is sometimes called the “server candle” because it is with the Shamash candle that the other eight candles of Hanukah are lit.  Shamash is the Akkadian name for the sun god of the religion native to the Mesopotamia region.  He was also considered the deity of justice. King Hammurabi left evidence that gave credit to Shamash for his famous code by which most legal codes are written and the admonition to “love they neighbor as thyself” which occurs in most religions is derived.

 

The Shamash candle reminds us, just as the other eight candles do, of a very important aspect of living – the importance of serving.  On this the first day of a new year, according to the standard calendar, the eight candle of Hanukah will be lit with the Shamash candle.  The eighth candle is one of retrospection, rejuvenation, refortification and thereby, giving us a rededicated mind. 

 

On this first day of January in the year 2017 or the third day of Tevet in the year 5777, how will you be a server?  It is our purpose to not just take and experience but to serve others, to share in life.  On this day, many will make resolutions for a brighter future to forge pathways to be as bright as the sun god Shamash.  I hope you will also be a server candle and help another find their way towards a better tomorrow for us all.

The Common

The Common

Christmas 5

 

Life is a collaborative effort.  We often fail to recognize that and so it sometimes seems that life itself fails us.  During the seasons of Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa, certain ideals are espoused and encouraged to be taken into the new, upcoming year.  These ideals are in reality practices that provide for the collaborative effort of living.

 

The English manor of olden times was in reality a very large farm or plantation often protected by stone walls.  Within the land holdings were bungalows for those that lived and maintained the manor properties, crops, and livestock.  Each manor was self-sufficient and large parcels of land, although owned by the landholder who was generally of the peerage, were set aside for use by the workers.  Such land was called the commons land or “commons” as it was used by all but especially the “common people”.

 

Today some countries have extended the concept of common land while others have done away with it.  It has served as the basis for the establishment of local and national parks but generally speaking, the concept of “the commons” has been used more in an economic sense.  The collaborative approach to living has given way to a more self-centered, ownership ideal.

 

These three holidays, however, serve to remind us that life is indeed a collaborative effort and we are all in it together. Sow what happens when we forget that living should be collaborative?  What can occur when we elect to extinguish rather than expand and encourage?

 

Englishman William Forster Lloyd in 1833 proposed the concept of “the tragedy of the commons” in which sheep allowed to graze irresponsibly ultimately killed all the grass upon which they grazed.  This idea was reiterated in 1968 in an essay written by ecologist Garret Hardin in warning of the dangers of unregulated use of shared resources.

 

Both Lloyd and Hardin applied their theories to land used by everyone, not just those within the commons environment so many argue their conclusions.  Unregulated use of anything can lead to overuse and the killing of such natural resources.  Many feel they were describing the tragedy of open access rather than a true use of a common area.

 

Peter Barnes, an economist, used the sky as a metaphor to such issues.  Since the sky belongs to all, he wanted to have it considered a worldwide generic commons with companies paying forfeits to pollute.  Logically, he maintained, it would be a wider business decision to have proper manufacturing procedures that reduced the amount of pollutants released and avoidance of fines.  This would provide for a cleaner environment for all, a healthier living, and a less polluted commons area of the sky.

 

Harvard professor Yochai Benkler has proposed a new collaboration regarding the use of common materials and information.  His model is a new modus operandi of socioeconomic production in which large numbers of people work cooperatively employing the Internet as a communicative and collaborative tool.  First mentioned in his paper “Coase’s Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm”, written in 2002, Benkler gives credit to this idea to Eben Moglen.   A later book published in 2006 expands on this concept.  “The inputs and outputs of the process are shared, freely or conditionally, in an institutional form that leaves them equally available for all to use as they choose at their individual discretion.”   Copyright issues are avoided since commons-based projects are often shared under an open license.

 

In other words, the idea of the commons has been expanded to include intellectual material and advancements.  This means that scientists and inventors are collaboratively working together for the betterment of all.  The concepts behind the celebrations of Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa share a similar pattern of shared usage and responsibility.  They encourage us to live so as to the benefit of all and not just focus on ourselves.  They may seem like simple evenings of enjoyment but the ideals they espoused just might create advancements that make our living more productive as well as enjoyable.  When you light a candle for Hanukah or Kwanzaa or Christmas, you are lighting the way of a brighter future for us all.

Extend or Extinguish

Extend or Extinguish

Christmas 4

 

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a blog post is the title.  It is the first thing you see and needs to grab your attention.  It must, however, also fit the post.  The recent political campaign for president in the United States was a very good example of this.  Every candidate in an election must sell themselves to the voting public.  As a salesman, this candidate bypassed the needs and issues.  Instead this candidate relied on buzz words and the deep fears that motivate people.  Each campaign stop was a title only, lacking in substance but very big on buzzwords and catchy slogans.  One candidate was a very good salesman and that candidate ultimately won the election.

 

The word “snuff” is an interesting word and part of the title I would have preferred to use today.  The word has various different meanings, though the use of it definitely grabs the attention.  Originally the word “snuff” comes from an English word in the fourteenth century, “snoffe”.  It referred to the charred part of the wick of a candle.  It became a verb meaning to “put out” and later came to mean to put an end to”.  Thus it also became an adjective meaning something violent.  However, the Dutch had a similar word “snuffen” which meant to sniff through the nose and it was the Dutch definition that gave tobacco taken in through the nose the term “snuff” that made it most famous.  This tobacco had a different grind than the tobacco smoked, a courser, less refined grind, and soon people were using an affectation of “sniffing” in the air to those people they felt were beneath them or of a coarse heritage or behavior.

 

During this season, whether one is celebrating the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Christmas (and yes, it IS still the Christmas season) or Hanukah, we are called to do the opposite of the various meanings for the word “snuff”.  We are asked to remember the light of the world and the light within each of us.  We are reminded that we all come from the same humble beginnings of birth, the same process regardless of the home or hovel or mansion to which we will live our lives. We are encouraged to live a better life, one that encourages another rather than create violence and havoc in their psyche.

 

“Oftentimes, people reflect on their lives and wonder how they came to be at a certain crossroad or exactly how they got where they ended up. This can apply to anything in life, be it career choices, our choices of marriage partners or even personal decisions we’ve made, crises we’ve lived through.. A path is just that; a means of getting from one place to another and made up of individual stones or paces we take one after the other…When we start out on a certain path in our life, we don’t have the luxury of seeing where our footsteps will lead us…That’s the beauty of living…Every decision we make along the way leads us to more paths and so on and so on until by the end of our days, our life is one continuous string of smaller paths we have taken…All combined to make the final trail…Is it fate that leads us to veer from the original path we had in mind or is it something called destiny? Or is it a certain amount of luck, good and bad, or personal choice?”

 

This quote is one from last year’s Christmas series and though someone must have said it, I still cannot find to whom the credit goes.  I dislike it for just one small thing – it fails to mention the effect our choices have on others.  Every single choice we make or word we utter can have a huge effect on another.  As John Donne wrote, “No man is an island.”  We are all in this thing called life together.  So whether you are celebrating the recent Winter Solstice, the coming of the end of this year, the fourth day of Christmas, the fifth day of Hanukkah, the third day of Kwanzaa, just today as Hump Day, you are going to have an effect on someone.  The astronauts circling the earth on the International Space Station have an effect on us and they are about as far as a human being can get.  We all impact each other.

 

On this day, December 28th, what impact will you make?  Will you serve another or snuff out their hopes and greatest wishes?  My original choice for a title was “Serve or Snuff”, by the way.  Will you extend a hand to someone or will you extinguish the flame of their soul?  Recently a friend confessed to having had nightmares for the past six weeks, all based upon an incident that occurred at a place of worship.  Faith, beliefs, spiritualities, and religion should not create nightmares.  No one should have the ability to give another person nightmares.  We would all probably agree to that and yet, do we make it a point to live in such a way to avoid doing that very thing?

 

It is within our power with our words and actions to help another’s flame of life burn brightly.  Will you serve another or snuff out their hopes and greatest wishes?  Will you extend a hand to someone or will you extinguish the flame of their soul?  It really is not such a hard thing to do, to help another light the flame of their hopes and aspirations.  When we do that, the world will be a beacon of hope and joy, something we should celebrate each and every day.  Then we will truly have joy to the world.