"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Monday, December 22, 2003
The Real Spirit of Christmas
sac-ri-fice Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Latin sacrificium, from sacr-, sacer + facere to make -- more at DO
Date: 13th century
1 : an act of offering to a deity something precious; especially : the killing of a victim on an altar
2 : something offered in sacrifice
3 a : destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else b : something given up or lost
4 : what, to me, gives meaning to life
Without the cross, there never would have been a manger.
That's a fact that is missed at Christmas, that the entire season is not just a celebration of a birth, but the celebration of a gift, a gift beyond measure. That gift was not given at the manger, but at the cross. And that sacrifice is what makes it valuable, not the animals in the stable and the wise men and the snow and the singing angels.
My wife asked me the other day what I thought the perfect Christmas would be.
I thought for a bit, I had never really considered it. She offered her version of the perfect Christmas for me. It involved a cabin in the woods, snow on the ground, a fire in the fireplace/wood stove, all the family around, sleigh rides, big meal, etc. Essentially, the holiday on the Christmas cards. I replied that my perfect Christmas would be nothing at all like that.
I told her that in my perfect Christmas, I would have lots of money and give it all away to absolute strangers that needed it. She was pretty much appalled, and I think pretty pleased that I had not suggested doing that. Yet.
There is nothing in life that gives me more pleasure than giving. And the more sacrificial the giving the better it makes me feel. Even though other people don't feel or act that way, I can't imagine that this is wrong.
I just can't feel good about myself if I am being selfish or self centered.
I have considered some radical ways to give. I have thought about being a bone marrow donor. I already am an organ donor when I die, but wouldn't it be great to be able to give the gift of life to someone while I was still alive? So what if its painful. Life hurts sometimes.
If it doesn't cost anything it isn't worth anything.
Last weekend I stopped at a rest area on I-95 late at night. When I was leaving, a man flagged me down. I stopped and rolled down my window and asked what was up.
Turns out he had had car trouble in a car he was trying to get home for his son, and the repair had cost him far more than he expected. He was about out of gas and had run out of money, and his credit card was already maxed out, probably on Christmas gifts.
I reached into my wallet without any hesitation and gave him gas money. It wasn't enough to get him all the way home, but it was a good start, I told him. He thanked me profusely and tried to get my address to send it back to me. I refused.
When I drove off, I felt bad because it occurred to me I could have followed him to a gas station and filled his car up with my credit card. Oh well.
That's just how I am. I'm no pushover, but if someone honestly needs help, I'm there and trying my hardest to give it to them. There was a long period when I wasn't like that, as you are seeing in my narratives, but this is where I have ended up.
There are only so many ways for me to leave a legacy. This is one of them.
I used to say that I wanted everyone to be happy at my funeral since I would be in heaven. Not any more. I want to leave a huge Cliff shaped hole in the world. I want people to miss me, and think that what I did and what I represented was important enough for them to try it on for size too.
That's a big task I've set myself. But worth the trouble, I think.
No matter what the sacrifice.
You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.
Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924)