Sunday, December 25, 2016
An Angel on Christmas Eve
Christmas night this year coincides with the beginning of Hanukkah, both of them festivals of light in the midst of the dark and cold. Winter has only just begun and temperatures have been in the twenties and below until a day ago, when we soared up into the fifties. Tonight we are being blessed with a little rain, finally. Fifty degrees and high humidity made the air feel and smell like Spring this evening. It is wonderful to stand out under the stars and take deep breaths of that moisture. (The night skies have been so beautiful lately! Since the moon shows up later, I have been able to lie out between garden quilts and gaze up (down? out?) into the universe, seeing everything at once.
While I was in town today, I pulled up to a window for a late bite to eat, and met a remarkable young man. He was probably 26 or so and tall, dark, and handsome, as the romance novels all say. He was also incredibly personable and, since there were no cars in line behind me, we had a conversation. He has two jobs and volunteers as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, and he also volunteers at Mercy House. Mercy House is a place that is open in the four coldest and four hottest months of the year. It is funded by monies from the coffee and sandwich shop downtown. The homeless folk can go to Mercy House at night and have a meal, a shower, and a place to sleep where it is warm and safe. While they sleep, their clothes are washed and after breakfast, which they help cook, serve and clean up, they leave.
The young man not only volunteers at Mercy House, cooking and cleaning, but he donates money when he can, to be used for medical prescriptions for the homeless, if they are needed. He was such a blessing to me, like an angel of sorts, with soft, dark eyes and a open, genuine smile. How fitting to have stumbled across him on Christmas Eve, the night of the birth of Jesus, a man who taught that very same message of kindness and compassion toward others. Jesus would have welcomed that young man into his band of followers, I think.
Sometimes I when I read about Jesus' life, the things he said and did, the lives he touched and transformed by his actions and words, I have to shake my head. So often now, I see people who say they are followers of Jesus, believers in his message, who do and say horribly hateful, cruel and demeaning things to and about their fellow human beings. That makes no sense.
Somewhere along the line the train jumped the tracks and wandered away from the original vision of Jesus. But, there are also many who have done, and continue to do, great works of compassion for those who need help. Some of them name themselves Christians, but many others do not. They are decent people who have big hearts and are generous with what they have to share. I think that is much more important than what name is on the building you walk into to worship.
We need more compassion and less judging of others, it seems to me. We have our lives to live and we live them by our own lights. We should be content to let others do the same, unless they are doing harm to us or to someone else. (Just let some things slide, people.) It seems like more and more people are ready to burst into flames over every little thing that happens. (Which is a little scary when you live in a state that has an open-carry law on the books. You know what I mean?)