During the holiday season many of us will more consciously get involved in practicing charity than in other times. For some, increased acts of charity and goodwill during the season comes is a repeated habit, and for others there is an increased level of consciousness. That is the intention I am commenting on in this blog.
However you look at it the essence of the holiday season is thanksgiving, beginning with Thanksgiving and extending to Hanukkah and Christmas, Year-End and New Year and beyond. It is a season of gratitude awareness. The beauty of it is that this awareness has increased focus on other people beyond the self.
Gratitude in essence is practiced; thus “an attitude of gratitude” without actions is like faith without works – it is dead. Furthermore, it is well-recognized that living a joyful life is a consequence of practicing gratitude and thanksgiving.
For those of us who practice some form of spirituality, especially church, I would like to use Gospel texts for illustration of the points I am making here. Matthew 25: 31-46, a popular text regarding “gooding” or lack of, draws attention to how we treat the poor, the hungry, the sick, those lacking clothes, the oppressed – in general, the less fortunate in our midst. And in Luke 4: 16-22, Jesus proclaims his mission in the synagogue in Nazareth to be “to proclaim the good news to the poor…to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”, as quoted from Isaiah 61.
It is possible, in heeding this mission, that we forget that we are the poor, the oppressed, the needy, the broken-hearted. We may be tempted and misled to see only economic depravity in others and ignore our own spiritual anxieties. One of the heaviest of societal impositions is the need for conformity. In wanting to be like everyone else we are afraid of vulnerability issuing from transparency and as a consequence joy is even more illusive during the holiday season.
Let us allow this holiday season to shine light into our struggles and insecurities, help us confront any fears of being vulnerable and create the space for true joy and all the blessings that come with it.