Christmas Blessings

As we approach the day on which we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, I want to wish all of my friends Christmas blessings. May we learn to truly follow the example of the One who saw all people as brothers and sisters in God…who listened to each one’s story…who touched with healing and wholeness the lives of those who came in faith.

DSCN1873(nativity from Cameroon)

DSCN1876(nativity from Peru)

CAM00114(nativity from Indonesia)

CAM00110(nativity from the Philippines)

CAM00111(another nativity from Peru)

CAM00113(Charlie Brown’s Christmas story)

CAM00112(Precious Moments)

Blessings

This is the time of year to think about blessings. That has really come into focus for me recently!

I will retire effective December 31, 2013. That event was celebrated recently at my work with a reception/party–and I realized just how blessed I truly am.

I’ll have to admit…I wondered a little bit just how many people would come. The reception was held at the end of the workday–and it is December, after all! Would people be too busy too come?

Surprise! I knew several people would be out of town or had other commitments (i.e., school finals)…but I was surprised and amazed at the number of people who took time at the end of the day to come and celebrate with me.

My co-workers had a ball coming up with ideas about all the different hats I wear at work–and making hats out of materials appropriate to my jobs to symbolize them.

People I had worked with (both current and past) were contacted and asked if they wanted to write memories for a scrapbook to share with me, and as I read them, I found myself saying over and over, “Wow!” Some saw me in ways I have not seen myself; others remembered things I had forgotten. I was also deeply touched by one specific letter from one individual. Because of some work-related issues, our relationship had been severely damaged (if not broken) at one point. Healing has occurred over the years–and that difficult journey was acknowledged in that letter–along with a statement of appreciation that deeply moved me.

We never know how we impact people. Sometimes our families know when thoughts are shared with them at a funeral. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to realize both how I have been able to minister to others and (maybe even more importantly) to share and celebrate with those who have touched me so deeply these past several years.

So now, as I prepare for Christmas break, I am also looking forward to a new chapter in my life. I’m not slamming the door on this past one–I will still remain connected, although in different ways than as a co-worker…but I am also excited about new possibilities that are opening before me.

May you also come to realize how much each of you are blessed–and how you also bless others.

Nelson Mandela – RIP

A great man died yesterday.

I don’t use that term lightly. We often tend to “idolize” individuals whose claim to fame may be their singing, their sports prowess, or some other more fleeting focus.

But Nelson Mandela was truly a great man.

I cannot imagine spending 27 years in prison, many of them in a cell that is only 8×8…and making friends of my jailer…coming out of that situation having learned the language of my enemies…bringing a deeply divided nation together…walking away from the political power gained…and never expressing bitterness and hatred. Nelson Mandela did just that.

He was not a wimp–not by any means. He was not afraid to speak bluntly, but it was always with an eye towards finding ways of bringing people together rather than separating them.

He was not perfect. None of us are. But I think that’s part of what made him so influential. We could see his humanity…know his struggles and yet see how he was still able to look for the good in all the individuals he came in contact with.

I’m reminded of a statement from the courtroom scene of the movie To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch has lost the trial and the courtroom has emptied of all the whites. The African-Americans in the balcony stand in respect–and remind Finch’s daughter (who has been watching the trial secretly) to stand–a great man is passing.

We all today stand in respect. Truly a great man has passed. Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela.

nelson mandela