What's on Your Christmas Wish-List?

I submitted the following article for the Riverview Reflector's Winter issue. I have certain restrictions that I need to maintain when I write for the RR - I cannot use the word God or any other name for God and I cannot come across as teaching or preaching. Other than that, I have a lot of freedom. I am grateful for this opportunity to give voice in our neighborhood.

photo credit - KaLisa Veer on Unsplash


As we all know, there are gifts that money cannot buy. For me, time spent with my 4 grand-boys is invaluable. So important to me, I use it as a reason to not work full-time. I need time to be with these 4 little people (the oldest of whom is now 10!). They remind me of what is most important in life, they help reset my perspective which can easily get skewed. They keep me focused in the present moment paying attention to what and who is right in front of me. The investment of time spent with these boys has resulted in my profound gratitude for the gifts of hope, peace, joy, love that I experience being part of their young lives. Alongside their mischievous and self-centered behaviors, my grand-boys are at times the embodiment of these virtues.

In the church, the themes of HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE, mark the 4 Sundays of Advent leading up to Christmas. Each Sunday another candle is lit for the particular theme of that day and as a way to symbolize increasing light as we move toward the darkness of winter solstice and the celebration of Christmas.

Over time, moving through the church calendar year after year after year, these Advent themes can take on a somewhat mechanical role, filling their appointed place in the order of things. But this year they have become much more significant to me. Part of that is because the pandemic with all the restrictions has sharpened for me, and for so many others, an attentiveness to what is important and what is not. When there are things and events that we cannot have, those that are most important naturally rise to the top.

Another reason why HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE have become more significant for me this year is because their sad opposites too frequently appear in blatant and hurtful ways.
Despair, division, misery and fear exist in abundance. In some places they have taken center stage. Pushing aside those virtues that bring us together, they continue to wreak havoc and fracture.

HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE in their truest sense offer me a vast and generous spaciousness, and at the same time ground me in what is really real. They offer the capacity to work toward goodness and wholeness; to reach beyond myself for the well-being of others and of Earth on which I live. As I experience and participate in them, together with others, I become part of something larger than what I can experience on my own.

HOPE gives me tenacity; PEACE, steadiness; JOY, vitality; LOVE, awareness of divine compassion and acceptance.

Whether it’s with my 4 grand-boys or with people in my community, city and province, this year, on the top of my wish-list, are HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE, for each one of us and for us all.

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