blessings to you and yours

December is a month when we all are forced to look at our lives from the perspective of the cultural pressures of the holidays.  We are told it is “the most wonderful time of the year”, as Johnny Mathis sings so beautifully (am I old or what?).  For some, who have people to give their love to, and who are blessed to be receiving love from others, this is indeed a very special time of year.  But for many this time of year is not the Currier and Ives experience the retailers suggest it should be.

I know so many people who find this time of the year depressing.  Even in the best of life and home situations, at this time of the year we tend to spend too much, we tend to drink and eat too much,  and the season has the capacity to remind us of all the broken relationships that haunt our past and deprive us of the joy that the season promises.  There is a pall hanging over the lives of many, a unique emptiness and brokenness that plagues us this time of year.

But do we therefore have to give in and just join Scrooge and say humbug?  We can, we do not have to at all. Isn’t this a really good time to think and reflect upon what really does bring us joy and give our lives meaning?  It is my foundational belief that true fulfillment comes when we somehow take the time and make the investment to make others lives a bit better.  I think there is clearly an ontological truth about human nature and what gives us meaning.  We do not find fulfillment when we set our focus and path on self serving goals of the accumulation of more and more.  We find fulfillment when we set our focus and path on serving the needs of others.  It is when we see human need and make the effort to meet it, that we find we somehow have a reservoir of grace, joy, and peace within to sustain us and uplift us.  I am not talking about Christmas and Hanukkah gifts once a year.  I am talking about a way of living for others that mysteriously comes back in often surprising ways to bless us and sustain us with meaning and purpose.

I join the entire staff of the iF Foundation in thanking you for your interest and support of the work of the iF Foundation, and for all the other acts of generosity you carry out each day in helping those in need.  That person in need may be within your own family, or it may be someone in Haiti or Ghana or wherever you happen to encounter it.  We can’t meet every-one’s needs, but we each can say hi to a stranger on the street (not a New York tradition!), and smile and nod our greeting and acknowledgement of the stranger and friend alike as a person of great value.  By doing so, you will bless them because you simply do not know what burdens and scars they carry in life.  Too many live lives of  loneliness and our world is filled with estrangement.  Choose to become that bridge, it will first and foremost change you; and just might make a profound difference to others in ways you never could imagine.  You may not be rich in a monetary sense to meet others material needs, but a smile and acknowledging others humanity as valued people of worth doesn’t cost a dime, but is worth a fortune.

Blessings to you and yours this holiday season, may it be for you “the most wonderful time of the year”.

The Rev. Canon James E. Byrum

One Response to “blessings to you and yours”

  1. Nancy Armes December 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Fr. Byrum,
    How very true! I have known a few people who live a generous life and they have seemed so very content. A smile, hug, handshake done with feeling CAN and will lift the spirit of not only the receiver but the giver. Thanks for reminding me of this basic truth,

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