Saturday, December 15, 2018


It's been decades since I sent a Christmas card. Each of the pas 46 years I've spent the  weeks before Christmas preparing kids for the school's annual Christmas Program. (This year it's on Wednesday, Dec. 19.) I enjoy the busyness of preparing the singers, the readers, and the booth crew, but I found that trying to also write Christmas cards at the same time added a lot of stress. So I began to cut down on the cards, until finally I just stopped sending any at all.

But I have another way of seeing Christmas cards (I refer to it in my book "from Holidays to Holy Days." The American poet Walt Whitman wrote this image in his "Song of Myself:"

"I see something of myself each hour of the twenty four, and each moment then, ...I find letters from God dropt in the street,and every one is signed by God's name."

This is a lot like St. Benedict's conviction that God is present everywhere and in every person, and is always trying to communicate with me if only I'll stop and look around me. God is strewing love letter on my path every day, filled with messages of divine consolation and strength, forgiveness and joy. I need to get into the habit of looking for them, and taking the time to open them and enjoy them.

But there's much more to this idea of God's Christmas cards. In the second reading at Sunday mass tomorrow, Paul is instructing the community of Christians at Philippi how they need to act in order to build a bond of oneness in Christ. Among his words of advice is this verse: "let your kindness be known to all (Phil. 4:5)". The word translated as "kindness" is actually an adjective that means "gentle, gracious, forbearing."

Paul, it seems to me, is saying that God needs me to be a letter from God  to all sorts of people each
day: my students, my brother monks, my colleagues, street people, and so on. I am to be one of God's Christmas cards strewn at different people's feet today, and tomorrow. And what's God's message to these various people? We can look at Paul's advice to the Philippians in the reading at mass, advice we can pass on to others by our way of treating them: Rejoice! Be kind, gentle, gracious, forbearing; have no anxiety at all, let the peace of God guard your heart and your mind."

I'm supposed to be that message to all the people that I meet, I'm the letter, the divine Christmas card that offers encouragement, consolation and joy. 

In other words, I have to pass on the very same messages that the Lord has "dropt at my feet."

No comments:

Post a Comment