Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In the Bleak Midwinter

Today was a pretty bleak day.  Gray skies most of the day.  A lot of rain, including this morning when I ran 10000 meters on the track starting at 5:30 for no particular reason but just because I could.  I am now up to 2097.2 miles.   

In contrast, Sunday was one incredible day.  I began with an eight mile run.  Took my youngest to an ice rink for a game at 9:30 (which meant arriving at a rink a little over an hour from our house at 8:45).  My middle son and wife went on a confirmation (Catholic sacrament) trip to feed lunches that the kids made to homeless individuals.  When we were all home, we went to see my oldest son play in a brass ensemble.  And after that, my youngest, my wife, and I went to mass while my middle sang in a boychoir concert.  Then I picked him up.  So each of us got to do at least one thing we very much enjoyed during the day.  Even if it is not all enjoying the same thing, it is nice for each of us to get to do something that really makes us happy.

The lesson I learned on Sunday was that the song, In the Bleak Midwinter can still really move me emotionally.  My history with that song only goes back a little over a decade.  At that time, my children's elementary school (two through and one still there) had a community choir that sang about a half dozen songs at the December Festival of Lights each year.  The festival celebrates Hanukkah, Advent, and Kwanzaa--all use symbols of light.  The contrast of symbols of light and a bleak minwinter was always a powerful contrast in my mind.  

If you have never read the poem before, it is worth a read, in my opinion.  While for non-Christians, the images of wise men and shepherds may not hold as much weight as for Christians, but the last stanza can be meaningful if one focuses on the image of varying gifts and what they mean regardless.  
The reference to being "poor" is taken as a clear reference to resources in the last stanza.  The narrator compared herself to a shepherd and to a wise man.  The shepherd at least has a sheep.  The wise man has wisdom.  In the nativity story, the wise men had gifts of enormous value.  

The narrator has none of these.  In the narrator's case, her heart has to do with love and following.  

In my case, it is not exactly the same, but the analogy is definitely there.  Sometimes, no matter how much money I make and how many resources I am blessed to have access to, there are times when what I don't have is options.  And this is not for me so much as for people I am with.  Family.  Friends.  Fellow runners.  I love solving problems.  But sometimes, there are no solutions to which I have access.  In those cases, I do truly have only my heart to give.  A heart full of caring.  A heart full of compassion.  A heart full of desire to see the best in others.  A heart full of joy to share.

That is what I can share.  

Sometimes that is all I can share.

And sometimes that is enough.

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