Merry Christmas, again.
I have a kind and beautiful wife who, for inadequately explained reasons, loves me. I have two (usually) glorious sons. I live in a pleasant house in a terrific location. In many ways I have been blessed well beyond my deserving. I know I have been. Perhaps you've felt this way your own bad self. It's good for me to be reminded of this with a bit of frequency.
Still, I won't exactly be distraught to see 2006 scoot out the door. I lost some dear people, some through death and some turned out not to be the people I had thought and they shimmered out of my life as quietly as they entered it. Some friendships hit some unseen sell-by date and just sublimated away.
I have been blessed with some brilliant new pals (pray for my friend Lewis, who has a big work thing pending and which could go either way) in addition to the Usual Suspects. I take very little seriously, but friendships are one of those things I actually approach with seriousness. Thank you all.
To all of you who have stuck around here, especially during the touch-and-go moments of the Big Autumnal Project: Thanks. I am dumbstruck--no mean feat, that--with gratitude. You and your intentions are all in my prayers and, retrograde Papist that I am, y'know there will be candle-lighting for all of you. I won't put anyone on the spot, but you KNOW who you are and so does God.
Of course, being the retrograde Papist I am, you know I couldn't let this post go by without a mention of Whose Birthday it is. As per Douay-Rheims (Protestant kids, feel free to substitute the KJV) the prophet Isaiah:
And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.
Riffing off something the very estimable Ryan Duns, SJ wrote, let's remember that much like He who was pierced for our iniquities and through whose stripes we are healed was once a baby, beloved of his parents, held and cradled and nursed and dandled. Let's keep in mind and in our prayers all those whose Christmas won't be merry and bright. People who are alienated from family and friends, people who are struggling with anxiety or depression, suffering from emotional or material deprivation, bearing the pains and scars of abuse and neglect. Let's not forget our individual moral obligation to those who need our help and concern. Like Ryan wrote, these were once, like the Christ Child, babies. Let's see our Redeemer in their affliction, and respond as He wants us to respond.
Let's not also forget all the blessings we have received, and let's not forget that chief among these are the love of family and the comfort of friends. I wish you all the very Merriest of Christmases, spent basking in the warmth of loved ones and reflecting on the good in your life.
P.S. May Santa Claus/Father Christmas deal kindly with you, too.