Note: I originally published this last Christmas. I tried to come up with another Christmas theme, but kept coming back to this little essay as best expressing my thoughts at this time. Therefore, I am re-publishing it--slightly edited--for this season.
Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to you and yours.
Life and Time
At this time of the year, on this Holiday, we are exhorted to be joyous, and joyous many of us are. Whether we rejoice around a decorated evergreen tree—real or imitation--with family and friends, engaging in an orgy of gift exchange very loosely based on Biblical Kings bearing gifts to the Christ child, followed or preceded by another orgy of food consumption, or perhaps a quieter more religious observance, this is an opportunity to reflect on life and time.
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" reminds us that what really matters is something called the Christmas spirit, in essence the spiritual nature of the Holiday. There is indeed more to life than life. Peace to men of good will, charity, generosity and celebration are all good and important things. But there is more.
Not everyone, alas, is joyful; not all mankind is filled with charity and good will. There is poverty; there are tragedy, anger and hate; there is injustice and, yes, there is evil. Like it or not, these are all part of this life. But again, there is more.
There is a theory that life is a zero sum experience. For each joyful moment there is, in due time, a sad one; for each success a failure; for each triumph a tragedy. It all evens out in the end. While this may imply futility, the true imperative is to fully appreciate and revel in the good times, for they are inevitably temporary. Do not waste them. Appreciate and openly love spouse, family and friends. They are not immortal. Do not let the little things ruin the big ones. Everything leaves a mark in time. Wasting the good leaves the field to the bad.
Most important, do not ignore the spiritual. As Mr. Church said in "Virginia", there is something beyond the corporeal. There is an order and a plan toward which final conclusion we are chaotically lurching. Many believe, as do I, that it is not of this world.
Max Ehrmann's strangely wise Desiderata puts it this way: "Although it may not always be clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should." The aviators' classic poem High Flight ends with, "I've trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand and touched the face of God." Spirituality--if you look closely enough, there is spirituality in nearly everything, transcending the mundane and mean of our daily lives. Thus the zero sum game is defeated.
Some of you may already know our family has experienced a great tragedy. Joan, my wife of fifty-one years, is lost in the darkness of a massive stroke. She is home, but may never return to me. However, I look back at fifty years of true blessing, love and wonder, and thank God for her and those years, and the two wonderful children who resulted from our union. Zero sum, indeed not.
So, at this eleventh Christmas of the Third Millennium from that Glorious Birth, please enjoy fully the good times and the good people. They will leave a lasting, shining mark on your life and time.
Merry Christmas and "God bless us, every one!"