A Season to be gentle

Throughout the Holy Season, be as kind to each other as though to the Christ Child himself — including showing kindness to yourself.

The Scripture

1 John 4:7-9

Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God.

Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent His one and only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.

Photo of a flower

Reflection by Deborah Beach Giordano

For those who find the Christmas Season difficult

You who delight in Christmas festivities, who look forward to joining with others in celebration, who will be spending time with people they love and enjoy — need read no further. Abundant blessings upon you and yours, and may this holy Season always be as bright in your homes and your hearts as it is today.

For those who find this Season difficult

An inescapable,
that no sleep
can alleviate.

Grim dread
stretching forth:
a noxious,
oozing Styx,
gray wraiths
cry out
from the swirling
stinking depths;
a cackling, smirking
who must be paid
in sugar-coated smiles.

The suffocating circle
pressing close,
insistent, inexorable,
wielding words
as sharp as knives.

Clenched fists
conceal wounds
of ages past;
death-mask grins
disguise miseries
long endured;
lies are repeated,
pain is perpetuated,
ancient secrets
remain unspoken.

Within the glinting,
darkness abides;
a sacrilegious parody,
an unholy pretense:
all is merry and bright —
for the sake
of appearances.

You are understood. Your pain is unique, the causes personal and particular, yet the sense of abandonment and grief, of artifice and emptiness is shared: a widely-kept secret in a vast community of the silent.

This Season of gathering darkness (bringing us our longest night), is also a shout of defiance, a refusal to accept the bleak and barren as the final word on life. Candles are lighted to spite the darkness; yule logs burn, their warmth outlasting the chill of the cold winter night. And so, in us, may we find the light of hope and the courage to persist.

For Christians, this is the hinge of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus; the One we call the Light of the World, the aspect of God’s full-gracious love, the final Word — which is life in spite of death, compassion in spite of suffering, kindness in spite of antagonism, peace in spite of violence and hate. In short: a world transformed from bleak and barren midwinter to an ever-present, endlessly-repeated birth and new beginning.

It is a Message of peace; of sustaining quietude and tender compassion. It is a gift that we offer to one another through kindness and understanding, and a gift we can give to ourselves. If the days ahead fill you with dread, if obligations feel overwhelming, stop. Take a breath. Choose well and wisely what truly matters; be as kind and tender to one another as if to the Christ Child — especially to yourself.

Christ's peace and grace to you,