Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day Twenty-Six in Days of Joy

Showing love

Without instilling guilt or shame, one of my wishes for my children is that they understand how privileged they are to have enough; (and then some!) and to realize that not everyone does. I hope they will cultivate a sense of gratitude and abundance, then be moved by the desire and rightness of sharing what we have with others. As we begin the Advent season; be it a countdown to Christmas, to the Solstice, or Hanukkah, I want to share with them a sense of reverence for this special time of the year, to bring light and warmth where there is darkness and cold in the world and in our own hearts.

I have days when this becomes a boring lecture, to little avail, I am sure. When we find a news story or a book on someone whose generosity and living among the poor has changed the world, my husband and I share it with the children. Mother Theresa is a household favorite, as is Ghandi and Sister Emmanuelle (champion of Cairo's poorest).

Yesterday, before a promised annual trip to the mall, I brought up the subject at circle time. Circle time is our daily morning gathering to light a candle, share joys and sorrows, remember those of our friends, say a blessing, learn a verse or poem, toss around our math beanbags for practice. I reminded them that while we were going out for a fun day, there were children who were hungry or without a home. I asked what we could do to help out one child today and throughout the holiday season. Alienor, 8, immediately brought out the "guest at your table" box from church. She told the story of the people on the box, and everyone ran to get money to contribute. There were pledges of allowance money and thoughts and prayers.

This was a good start to the day. On our way home from our day of bad food and tons of fun, we decided we would choose a really cool toy for a contribution to Toys for Tots. Once again, allowances were offered and wrapping services proposed. I guess it is easy to be a little generous when you have just had a wonderful day, but I am glad to see little hearts and minds turning towards others. I wish it could become more concrete for them. Yes, we've volunteered at the soup kitchen and we will again. Their question from that experience was; "why can't parents who have a (Ouii, PS3, other video game thingy) buy food for their families?" Hmmm, maybe not the best lesson, but we'll work with it. We frequent inner-city libraries where the homeless hang out when it rains and parents drop their children and disappear, then the children are reprimanded...for being abandoned children? I am never sure who to be most angry with in those cases.

As I was searching for ways to begin the Advent season in reverence and awe, I found this sermon from last year. I find it so inspiring that I will post a link to it here:

It was given last year by Robert W. Henderson last year at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, but its message is positively universal. I will take his suggestion of incorporating silence as a way to calm the outer din of commercialism and folly (especially with Black Friday coming up). It may be a challenge to create ten or twenty minutes of silence with a two-year old around, but teaching the concept and giving the older three a space and time in which to pray and meditate on their own, is something that will benefit everyone.

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