As I sit puzzling over what to do with the extra fork beside my plate, I begin to worry. What will they think of me – not knowing this seemingly important point of etiquette? I was not, as my mother always told me, “raised in a barn.” Suddenly, the person next to me leans over, “Do you know what to do with that fork”? I had been talking to her prior to the meal and I found her charming, intelligent, and kind. It never occurred to me to think less of her for not knowing what to do with the fork. I smile conspiritorially. “I don’t know either. Let’s choose a function and as long as we both use them for it, people will think we know what we’re doing.” She laughs and agrees. We have cemented a budding friendship by working through our mutual fear and discomfort together. What good manners we have!
For all that we hold holy
and all that we hold dear,
let us not discuss Christ’s Christmas
in a way that engenders fear.
The Jesus Christians worship
accepted those he knew –
his movement based not on hatred
but love and truth.
For those who believe in Jesus the Christ
we should honor him with prayer,
For those who do not believe as Christians do
but understand themselves to be
and loving beings,
we can celebrate a season of
behavior that represents who we are
and what we believe.
And all of us
can make this season a true “holi-day season” –
contemplating the “holy”
“sowing” (planting, nurturing, growing).
We can all attempt
loving each other
more than ourselves.
The world is a scary place
when viewed through fearful eyes.
“Are you looking at me?!
Nobody said you could look at me.
Keep your eyes to yourself.”
That way you can’t see me as I am –
frightened, anxious, shy,
beautiful, brilliant, valuable-
just like you.
Just let me look at you –
give me a chance to know you,
to appreciate you,
to share life with you.
Just give me a chance.
Just give me a chance.
“Fairytales teach children that the world is fraught with danger, including life-threatening danger; but by being clever (always), honest (as a rule, but with common-sense exceptions), courteous (especially to the elderly, no matter their apparent social station), and kind (to anyone in obvious need), even a child can succeed where those who seem more qualified have failed.
And this precisely what children most need to hear.
To let them go on believing that the world is safe, that they will be provided for and achieve worthwhile things even if they remain stupid, shirk integrity, despise courtesy, and act only from self-interest, that they ought to rely on those stronger, smarter, and more able to solve their problems, would be the gravest disservice: to them, and to society as a whole.
“On the Supposed Unsuitability of Fairytales for Children”
― J. Aleksandr Wootton
It’s easy for our inner eye to produce images of their faces:
But our inner eye is flawed
because we fail to see the vulnerabilities
of those we believe we are vulnerable to:
Victimizers – true –
but also victims –
victims of their own impulses,
their own ignorance,
their own fears.
They were once us
or might become us
if we allow it –
but locks don’t educate;
bars don’t heal
and corrections don’t correct.
Only seeing with clear eyes –
with eyes of compassion –
can do that.
Creator of the Universe,
We see your hand in all we do, all we are and all we see.
We feel the emptiness that is within us –
an emptiness we fill with
things that don’t last.
We are embarassed to admit our weakness,
for you and for one another
although it is always there.
Fill us with the spirit of true religion –
As we stumble in the darkness of our lives
let us hold on to one another
and to a belief in good,
Like many Americans, I grew up on a steady diet of television. When I think of the neighbors of my favorite sitcom families, the most interesting ones were the ones who were different in some way – and who forced the main characters to learn something. Where would Mr. Wilson be without Dennis the Menace? The Bunkers without the Jeffersons? The Stevens’ without Gladys Kravitz? And didn’t we all actually want to live next to the Adam’s Family?
What does it mean to love a neighbor?
Open our hearts to those who are different than us.
Help us to learn what they might teach us.
Let us love all of the people in our lives
by overcoming our fear of difference
and of change.
Let loving our neighbors be a challenge and a comfort to us.
Let the cup of sugar we borrow
bring the sweetness of understanding