December 3, 2010

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Like Roberta, be in tune with God and let your light shine

Patti LambLast weekend, I stopped at a department store to tackle some Christmas shopping.

The moment that I walked through the doors, it was as if I had entered an enchanted Christmas wonderland. The store was lavishly decorated with beautifully trimmed trees. Sparkling, glimmering,

star-shaped ornaments hung from overhead. I was in awe at the Christmas splendor.

My 3-year-old daughter, Margaret, took it all in and sighed. “Is this the North Pole?” she asked.

On the way home, she pointed out glowing yard decorations and light-trimmed rooftops. At this time of year, it just seems easier for the world to let its light shine.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, there is so much to look forward to. During the holidays, we get to visit with family members we haven’t seen in a long time. We get decked out in our finest clothes and become re-acquainted with old friends at parties and at church. We devour succulent food and enjoy more than our fair share of sprinkle-topped treats.

Visions of new toys and games dance in children’s heads. And adults get to savor some much-needed vacation time. In December, the world is prettier, and people are more cheerful and generous.

It is generally not too difficult to find joy at Christmas.

The challenge is to find beauty in the world and goodness in people’s hearts when it is not Christmastime, and the planet is not trimmed with tinsel.

I know a woman who finds beauty in the dull and ordinary moments of every day. She is a soul for whom every day is Christmas. Currently, she is in the care of hospice. She wakes up every morning and beams. “I get another day!” she exclaims.

With this woman, you would never know when it is Christmas or any holiday because she keeps the spirit alive all year long.

She finds worth and grace in the un-ceremonious. Every meal with her family is a feast, even if it is just last night’s leftover spaghetti that is on the menu.

Her daughter’s scuffed ballet shoes cluttering the bedroom are not contributors to a messy house. They are a priceless souvenir which bear memories of growth, happiness and steps in the right direction. Wrinkles are not wrinkles at all—they are laugh lines.

It is easy to be happy when things are going well. But can we still feel blessed when things aren’t going so swimmingly? Can we still uncover cause for celebration when it is not Christmas? Can we still count our blessings when our stomachs and our bank accounts are not full? When our health fails us? When those closest to us disappoint us?

There are times in life when the easiest option is to be overcome by bad news, negative attitudes and heartbreaking diagnoses. The more difficult course of action is to remain optimistic, and keep the faith in the midst of suffering. I think such optimism can only be found by a soul that is truly in tune with God. Only faith can light the way in a cold, dark world.

Merry Christmas to an incredible woman named Roberta. No festive display of Christmas lights and holiday décor in the fanciest department store in the entire world could ever match the beauty that you reflect by being an instrument of God.

Thanks for letting your light shine.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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