As we gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving, the words of the Apostle Paul seem more relevant than ever. I first reflected on his advice December 13, 2015, and I have returned to it over and over during the ugly election campaign. Now I am reminding myself to seek peace first of all with those I love most. That begins with me. After I originally wrote this, I found a note I had scribbled on a church worship program: Dwell on these things. Speak about these things. Post these things. Read books, watch movies and tv about these things. Associate with people who dwell on these things.
Key 9: Think of things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good reputation, excellent and praiseworthy.
Saturday—the 14th day of Advent, the 7th day of Hanukkah—was a day to dwell on that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely…
In the sad and in the joyful—the funeral for a woman who had lived a very long and good life; lunch with a friend; an ecumenical Holiday party; a full house for the annual community Holiday concert—the focus was all on what is good. In three very different settings, I experienced community, coming together in a shared experience.
At the funeral, the liturgy of the Church brought friends of four generations together both to celebrate a life well lived and to comfort the family. Stories brought smiles, tears, an occasional chuckle. Hugs.
Later in the day four couples hosted a large progressive party for symphony-goers. First, we celebrated Hanukkah and lit Menorah candles over hors d’oeuvres and drinks; then the party moved next door to a home decorated for Christmas where we enjoyed traditional Holiday desserts.
The concert was a sellout, with all ages and ethnicities gathered together. We heard secular and sacred music, welcomed Santa Claus and sang along with choirs and orchestra. Spirits were high.
We live in a time of distrust and anxiety, of fear and anger. Flags seem to fly permanently at half-staff. Our nation is polarized, and too often the politicians and pundits prey on our negative emotions. Our conversations are all about the most recent rumors and predictions. Truth, honor, righteousness, purity are lost.
As a new widow, I did not have any peace until I let go of my worries and fears, until I learned to live in gratitude mode and until I willed myself to focus on that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good reputation, excellent and praiseworthy. I sought friends and organizations with those attributes. Almost seven years later, I have grown complacent. The mood of the country, headlines and Facebook posts all stir those old feelings of fear and anxiety, of worry about a future that I cannot control. I need to seek more days like Saturday:
- Days to lay aside differences and celebrate that which binds us together.
- Days to focus on the common good and reflect on that which is lovely, whether a beautiful life or beautiful music.
- Days to share and celebrate faith traditions.
The angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
And the Prince of Peace said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
You can find all 12 Keys to Reclaiming Joy here.
Photo, top, by John-Mark Kuznietson for Stocksnap.io.