Sam Burnham, Curator
It has been a horrible year. It has been a great year. This has been a frustrating year. This has been a blessed year. Rather than dive too far into the Dickens references, let me just say this year has had more than its share of challenges. But it has also had more than its share of blessings.
If you look hard enough, you’ll see both in every life. Oftentimes the contrast is not very stark. You’ll often find blessings and curses, evil and good, mingled together. They oppose each other and fight for the same space, each one trying to displace the other. We have to recognize this struggle and we have to know how to handle it, especially at this time of year.
With Halloween behind us, we find ourselves at the start of the holiday season. Already the rush has started. If we aren’t careful, it will take charge. Stress and social pressure can besiege us and ruin this season, sapping any enjoyment we would find.
The rush compels us. Commercialism already has Christmas in the stores. Candy, music, decor, all crying out to us to buy something, spend our money, “that’s what this season is all about.”
Well that’s just not good enough.
This year I’m starting right now. In a life made of years that are filled with evil and good, we are faced with a choice. It’s like the old anecdote about the grandfather explaining to his grandson that he has two wolves living inside of him, one good and one evil. He continues explaining that they are constantly fighting to determine which path he takes. The point of his story is that the wolf that wins is the one he feeds.
And so we have a choice to make. We can feed greed, commercialism, anxiety, social pressure discontentment, or despair. We can focus on the bad that has befallen us, the trials we’ve succumbed to, the battles we’ve lost, our failures. We can wallow in self pity and let our holiday season be stolen by unhappiness. We can feed that bad wolf a steady diet that he will thrive on. He will determine how our life is lived.
Or we can make a different choice.
We can focus on gratitude, thankfulness, empathy, hope, forgiveness, and contentment. We can feed that good wolf. We can look around us and see our greatest blessings, which are rarely things. We can focus on a better tomorrow based on the strong, well fed, and healthy good wolf inside us. We can focus on Thanksgiving, which is all about gratitude for provision, for safety, for family, for friendship. We can make our holiday about these things. We can focus on the Incarnation: God with us in the form of His Son and Grace that restores all things.
You cant buy any of that at a store. They don’t have any of it at the mall. It’s not available at Amazon. It’s free, but it ain’t easy. It requires us to make a choice every moment of every day. And that’s the choice I plan to make this season. I’d ask you to join along, not for my sake but for your own. Find opportunities to be grateful, thankful, content. Identify those blessings we’re all prone to overlook. Feed that good wolf.
Our individual efforts, our willingness and attentiveness to make these choices are the hope of our society. They are the hope this season.
Let’s celebrate this season well.
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Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire