Candles of joy, despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch.
Candles of courage where fear is ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens.
Candles of love to inspire all my living.
Candles that will burn all the year long.
– Howard Thurman
I’m very proud of the progress I have made this year in many areas of my life. The card (bearing the Christmas blessing above) behind the candles, and an ornament that now adorns my Christmas tree were given to me by a work colleague in a department in which I do not directly serve. I am proud of these two gifts because they are signs of growth in two big areas of my life where I was most certainly lacking: communication and spirituality. I’ve worked in a seminary for 9.5 years and have balked at the idea of God. I don’t know why or when, but his presence seems to have disappeared in my life at some point before and during the years I spent working at the theology school. The spirit shone strongly through me while I was in college. I remember being able to feel a warmth in my heart, and to visualize a light in my chest. Then that light and warmth left me.
Thankfully, the He (or It) that was within me at one time, and now is now back because of the work I did on communication with the people I work with.
“Why are they always so happy,” I wondered. “How could they be so happy, it is sickening,” I once thought.
But it is not sickening: it is wondrous. They had something. Three somethings:
Hope, Belief, Faith.
These were things I needed and the only way to get them was to lean into those who work and live around me. No, I wouldn’t lose my sense of humor or my snarky wit. Yes, I would still enjoy big belly laughs. And, I would gain friendships, respect, acknowledgement and a desire for people to actually want to spend time near me. Friendships and acquaintances that I never thought would be possible.
I let go of anger and opened up to hope, faith and belief in something larger than myself. The solution, and the fellowship at work, have been there all along I just had to let go, and allow those special people to educate me about how to live in community. This learning cannot be done with the use of books: it can only be done with busy heads, hearts, and hands in the form of good deeds.
So long as I am employed in this community, and as a citizen of the world, I will never forget these great gifts of 2014.
Thank you to each and every one of you for restoring my faith.