Monday, December 22, 2003

The Good News

On Friday my sons and I went shopping. They are both still at ages where they find more gifts they'd like to have for themselves than ones they'd like to get for others. We went from store to store, browsing a lot and buying a little, but we laughed and traded stories and enjoyed each others' company. At our favorite bookstore, I walked up and down the aisles, seeing what was new, marveling at all the inspiration, hard work, and vision reflected in the thousands of books represented there. It was a bit overwhelming. So many people, working with such heart to produce these books. How will they ever get read? How will they all find homes? How will all that work be honored and received?

I found an open table in the bookstore's coffeeshop, purchased a soy chai (my favorite late afternoon indulgence), and sat down to wait on my sons. At the table next to me , a 60-something fellow sat, staring off into space. He looked a bit like a retired college professor, in his corduroy jacket and khaki slacks. His long overcoat was tossed over the other chair. Before him was a box of cards and a three-inch stack of worn 3x5 cards. I assumed that he was addressing Christmas cards and then noticed that the image on the front of the card was not related to the holiday but instead was a large painted image of ships at sea. Instead of writing, he sat and stared, thinking deeply, reliving something memorable, or searching for an answer, a name, or a message just beyond the edge of his consciousness.

Suddenly I felt sad for him, sitting in a coffeeshop, addressing cards, alone. Do people appreciate him? Does he have someone to have a cup of coffee with in the mornings? Does he feel defeated or victorious about his life? I looked deeper, beyond the emotion, to the place where God tenderly touches each of us in the depths of our souls. We are all victorious because our lives are the stories of Divine Love, I remembered. Suddenly the bookstore, my card-writing friend, and all of us in that place became the gleaming thoughts of God--good ideas, intentions, loves, and stories that were born to be shared. We are creation itself. We create our days, our lives, our homes, our world, along with and in response to the immeasurable and continuous gift of an all-loving Creator. I wanted to tell this man and all the authors of all the books and the music in that store that I was glad they were here, I appreciated their creations, and that in my heart, I gladly received the many gifts they offered--through their work or simply by their presence.

I think it's a message we all need to hear, again and again: Our presence matters, our contributions are known, our love reaches around the world and back again. We help complete the continuously unfolding story of God. It couldn't be told in the same way without us.

Merry Christmas to each of you, and thank you for the many daily gifts of love you bring into the world. I'm glad you're here.

Shalom, :) Katherine

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