--“Do You Hear What I Hear?”,
Regeny and Baker, 1962
Do you see what I see?
Well, there’s shelter. I see I can check that off my list.
I’ve got a warm and safe place to sleep tonight. No broken windows to let in frigid air, no newspaper stuffed into the walls for insulation. No burrowing into a sleeping bag under a bridge. Unlike 1.5 billion of my fellow human beings, I’ve got adequate housing. Nor am I a refugee, who wanders the earth without a home, an unwed teenage mother, a worried father. In 2016, 65.3 million of my fellow children of God face this reality, the highest number since World War II.
Food? No problem for me there either.
My supplies are more than adequate: stocked cabinets, leftovers in the refrigerator, plenty to eat this time of year, almost too much: cookies and eggnog and delicious dinners. That’s not the case for ten percent of my fellow citizens in the Bay State. They experience “food insecurity”, a term describing chronic worry about whether or not you have the money to feed yourself and your loved ones.
In fact, if I take the time to stop and look at, really see, the life I get to live each day, I’m convicted by one undeniable truth. My life is not just OK or adequate. It’s actually amazing, stuffed to overflowing with so much privilege and comfort and security, especially when I consider how much of the rest of the world lives. Wow. I do have so much. Access to world class health care. A job I really love, most days. A circle of family and friends who love me. A car that runs. Hot coffee. A night sky filled with stars, with tails as big as kites.
But oh how easily I can lose site of this reality, living in my little town, my tiny state, my sheltered nation. I even sometimes imagine that I’ve got such “big” problems, because…well, I don’t have enough time to do all my Christmas shopping this year. Or my plane ticket for that post Christmas trip to Florida was so darn expensive. Or I can’t get the snow blower to start so I might actually have to break out the shovel and start digging myself. I’m embarrassed to confess those are some of the problems I’ve complained about lately. A good friend of mine calls these “first world problems” or “broken shoelace problems”: problems lots of other folks would do anything to have.
Problems that, relatively speaking, seeing, aren’t really problems at all.
The problem isn’t my so called problems. The real problem is my perspective. How I see my one life. Appreciate my one life. Give (or not give) thanks to God, for this one life I have been given today. Doesn’t mean that at times we all don’t all have real problems to face into this December. Some of us are sick. Some of us are missing a loved one and so this time of year is hard. Some of us are jobless. Some of us are very anxious about the days ahead for our country. We can’t control many of these truths.
But our perspective? What we see and how we see it?
That’s up to each and every one of us, a holy day gift from the Creator, who invites us to see life in a wholly different way, especially this time of year. If I could wrap up just one big gift to give to myself, to give to others for the holidays, circa 2016: it would be this single present. A holy new perspective on life: the spiritual vision to see, really SEE, our lives in comparison to the lives of most others; to be grateful for all we have, and then, to be so humbled and filled with mercy, that we can do nothing but give. Give.
Life. Love. Support. Shelter. Food. Justice. Comfort. Courage. Compassion. Welcome. Peace on earth, goodwill to all.
From where I stand in this beautiful and broken world, that’s what I need to see on this snowy December day. Perspective. It is all relative. When you consider your one life, what do you see?
Do you see what I see?