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Challenging Times

The Sacred Season


Did you know that from November 15 to January, there are about 29 holidays observed by seven of the world's major religions?

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. Buddhists recall Buddha’s enlightenment on December 8, Bodhi Day.  Hanukkah (Chanukah) is the Festival of Lights and Festival of Rededication by people of Jewish faith.  The 8-day holiday is determined by the Hebrew Calendar; it can occur in late November or during December.  And in 2015, Muslims observe the birthday of the prophet Muhammad on either December 24 or January 4, depending on whether one is Sunni or Shi’a.  Winter Solstice is celebrated by some Native Americans and by the Aboriginals.  (Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance).

Across the globe, it seems we are innately drawn to celebration during this season – regardless of our differing races, religions or cultural heritages.  Contemplating this, I imagine people who look very different from me, wearing clothes quite unlike mine, eating foods I’ve never tasted.  Nevertheless, just like me, they are sitting down with family and friends “breaking bread together” thirsting for community, honoring old traditions that satisfy, to some extent, their hearts’ desire for roots and a sense of place. 
I hear Christians lament that Christmas is so harried with food preparation, coordination of schedules, parties to attend and gifts to purchase that they are just relieved when the day has come and gone.  
Spending time with the family often produces anxiety, rather than connectedness: getting the meal prepared just right, the table set just right, the relationships with some relatives – well, just wrong.  I wonder if those other celebrants honoring different faiths with different traditions get distracted from the real meaning of their holidays too.  
Here are some thoughts for the season.   Although many of these refer to Christmas, I believe they can be read as applicable to all of us as we celebrate in varying ways this sacred season across the globe.
What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.

It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every 
path may lead to peace.
Agnes M. Pharo
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy,is to have the real spirit of Christmas. 
Calvin Coolidge
From Jennifer James, Success Is the Quality of Your Journey 

We can add more quality to our lives.  We are told to be more
tolerant, to be more compassionate, to be more generous, to give
to our family, our friends, our community, to draw our family
close around us.

Now, it's hard to find all these messages under all the presents and
the decorations and all the food, but they're there. . . There are an
infinite number of acts of kindness that are possible within
your family and friends.

Let the kids make a few more mistakes; be less critical; put your
arms around someone from whom you may be a little estranged.
Make peace within your family.

There are many possibilities for those acts of kindness.  That's what
Christmas is all about--acts of kindness that will stay with us
all year long.
I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all.  And that, of course, is the message of Christmas.  We are never alone.  Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent.  For this is still the time God chooses.
Taylor Caldwell
Whatever else be lost among the years, Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing: Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears, Let us hold close one day, remembering Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men. Let us get back our childlike faith again.
Grace Noll Crowell
Christmas--that magic blanket that wraps itself about us,
that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.
It may weave a spell of nostalgia.  Christmas may be
a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day
of remembrance--a day in which we think of
everything we have ever loved.
Augusta E. Rundel

Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol  

There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew: "Christmas among the rest.  But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round--apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that--as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they were really fellow- passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
I selected these from “Welcome to Living Life Fully, a site dedicated to the concept of living a full life and getting the most out of all the wonder that this world offers! “ 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these wise words and that your holidays are enriched by them. 

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