The future is in our past -
It is that time of the year again when if one is lucky, one can take time to reflect on the events of the past year. The Christmas season is a time to take stock of our lives. How have things changed? Has any progress been made in understanding the trials and tribulations of mere mortals?
This past year has not held much promise for many people. Around the globe, children are still hungry and dying from preventable diseases. Wars, started by leaders who call themselves Christians, are still raging, and poverty, loss of jobs and loss of retirement income became a reality for many people in North America. Illness cannot be avoided, but wars and hunger and loss of income from the actions of others are hard pills to swallow.
My mother used to say (as did your mother, no doubt) every cloud has a silver lining. Sometimes it's hard to see the silver lining when one is embroiled in stressful situations. Yet, they are always there if one can look past the pain. This is evident by the coming together of people in times of illness or sorrow.
Whether one believes in religion or not - and many do not today - there is a message of hope for everyone in the Christmas story. The story of Jesus is a story of hope for change. We hear the words annually, but, in the bustle and hardship of daily life, it is sometimes difficult to understand the message.
Two thousand years ago mankind responded to a call for change. That idea of change came from an unlikely source. The greatest request for a change in attitude came from someone with an ordinary life.
Jesus was not formally educated. He was a fisherman, carpenter or mason, according to various scholars who can never agree on anything. Yet, Jesus brought a most interesting, original message to his countrymen: Love your neighbour as yourself.
Can you imagine the state of a world in which we could love our neighbours? Better still, can you imagine a world in which we regarded all people as our neighbours? The trouble with the message is humans seem to think that neighbour means people of our own kind. All other humans are not neighbours, so there is no requirement to love them.
Can we imagine that Jesus loved all people? Most of all he loved the downtrodden, the outcasts and the poor. That message of love seems to have been diluted over the ages to suit the rulers of particular times. How can anyone who professes to be a follower of Jesus start wars?
Why are we still in need of a change message 2,000 years after Jesus preached His powerful message? People accepted His compelling message; yet, we still don't seem to love people who are not like us. This Christmas we might ask why do we respond positively to a change message but seldom embrace change?
Nevertheless, all things being equal, we seem to be more truly blessed in our own little corner of the world. Over the past year, Kevin Higgins and his staff continued to publish an excellent paper - The Beacon. This was born out by The Beacon receiving the General Excellence Award for 2008 handed out by the Atlantic Community Newspapers Association. The Beacon provides a vital community service to the region. Congratulations to Kevin Higgins and The Beacon staff!
This past year our area lost citizens who had lived long lives and whose passing felt like the end of an era. Kathleen Goodyear and Wilson Parsons of Lumsden, Lewis Carter of Wesleyville, and Greta Stagg of Cape Freels were well known community persons that will be missed. Carter's store will not be the same without Mr. Carter and the United Church in Lumsden will not be the same without Mrs. Goodyear.
The silver lining for me in the cloudy past year was the comfort received from friends and the people of Lumsden who didn't hesitate to bring humor, warmth and love to my life. Thank you Marilyn and Max Goodyear, Christine and Curtis Goodyear, Marie Parsons and Rochelle Gray for your friendship.
Sometimes a message on Facebook brings a smile and is an antidote for stress. Thanks Barbara Hickey Goodyear, Judy Barbour Gaulton, Judy Stagg, Myra Head, Marge and Rex Gibbons and Elsie Norman, as well as Sandra Kelly, Nancy Norman and Arthur Ford (Gander) for such messages.
Others who provided comforts to my immediate family are too numerous to mention but will always be remembered. Thanks to the staff at Brookfield Hospital and Rev. Tim Bowman of the Newtown-Lumsden Pastoral Charge.
There were others, too, who touched my life in different ways. My thoughts are with Ruth Vincent Knee from Greenspond whose husband Lloyd is severely ill. My heart goes out to Tillie Tiller who lost her only son Jim. May you find comfort in your families and friends.
Yes, we are a community of neighbors. As we usher in the holiday season let us hope for the community spirit and love which we experience to spread across the globe. We are global neighbors.