Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holidays: The best and worst of times

By Mary Erickson

As we progress in the anticipation of one of the holiest seasons of the liturgical year, we are reminded daily of the joy and angst this time of year brings to all of us. The media constantly bombards us with the realities of broken relationships, depressed people led to violent acts against themselves or others and the knowledge of those people who don’t have enough food to eat or shelter from the winter cold. This year the economic woes throughout the world have brought the stark reality of having to do with less and, in many cases, having to do without completely.

All of this should be enough to deal with but too often we have the struggles that occur within families throughout the year, and the holidays seem to magnify troubled relationships in the context of our expectations. Don’t all of us look back fondly on a Christmas scene from our childhood and wish we could recreate the warmth, happiness and loving spirit that we felt as children? I can remember being four years old and peeking out and watching my father put together a rocking horse for me, wondering why my dad was doing that because Santa was coming that night! Alas, my reverie was soon broken when my older brother, nine years old, told me that Daddy was Santa. That revelation was probably my first and most memorable disappointment in the holiday season.

Five decades have passed and with each passing year it is more apparent that those good old days that seem so precious really were elusive and a projection of all my desires for tightly-knit and happy family. For me, the vision of a Norman Rockwell family scene didn’t exist and all my wishing for it simply didn’t produce the image. What I had was a family of people who loved each other but couldn’t always get along very well and for whom the holidays only seemed to exacerbate our dysfunctional relationships.

Advent is a season of hope that encourages each of us to trust in the goodness of each other and to see that through our humanity we have the potential to bring about positive change if only we try. The good news of the coming of the Christ child symbolizes the opportunity to begin again in spite of the challenges and hardships we face. If there is one thing that I have learned it is that my vision of a perfect and loving family is probably not very realistic. What I know for sure is that I have a family of strong-willed individuals who at this point are blessed with good jobs, good health and each other. For that I am immensely grateful and I pray that our time spent together will be loving and a reflection of caring and kindness towards each other. If it doesn’t pass the Norman Rockwell family scene test, I am fine with it. I will know that we tried and there is always hope for next year. Blessings for a happy and holy holiday season!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Flu Season Allows Time To Be, To Reflect

By Sister Guadalupe Medina
I used to think we had only four seasons: fall, winter, spring and summer. But I realize now that we have a new season called the Flu Season, and its exact date for starting has not been established or put on the calendar.

Recently I entered into the Flu season and had unexpected days off. During those days I did not find myself wanting to go shopping, or prepare anything special. I simply just wanted to get better.

Much to my surprise I found myself enjoying the days off more than when I get holiday days off. Perhaps it was because these days were not planned, they just happened. I found myself spending more time in silence and wondering hmmmm . . . did Jesus ever get the flu?

I don’t know how many of you ever wondered that, but I found myself asking over and over again “If we say Jesus was human in every way but sin, does that mean he never got ill? If he did get ill, how did Mary as mother deal with it. Did she make him a nice cup or bowl of soup? Did she take him to the doctor for a check up to make sure it wasn’t anything serious? Did she rely on her mother’s healing remedies? How did Jesus manage to give so many talks and not lose his voice, which is what happened to me?

I realize the questions might seems silly to some people, but seriously, have any of you ever wondered whether Jesus got sick and, if so, how it was dealt with? Let’s face it, in his time period they did not have the advanced medical technology and specialized doctors and medicine advertisements, etc. like we do today. So what do you suppose they did?

As I used the days to enter into the silence of my being, I found myself recalling the home remedies my parents used on us kids when we were growing up and how miraculously it seemed we were healed. My dad was a simple man of deep faith who, I recalled, said that the ideas he received came to him while in prayer. He trusted and followed what he heard, and mother trusted him, and together they administered the remedies to us and we got healed. Each time, I recalled, they said a prayer. A simple prayer which I must admit I say each time I take medication: “En el nombre de Dios” (In the name of God).

As I spent the days recovering, I began to see them in a positive way -- positive in the sense the days allowed me to “just be.” They reminded me of the need for taking care of one’s body and how precious and fragile life is. They reminded me of the need to trust and not lose hope, and how, despite all the medical advanced technology and medicine on the market, the flu season -- like the other seasons -- has a beauty and purpose that perhaps we may not fully ever understand.