First of all, dear readers, I hope you all had a happy Christmas. Mine was beautiful. On Christmas Eve my wife and I went to Mass and it was the best I've ever attended, surpassing even those when our children were present. There was such a sense of peace and an emanating of love among the church folks that night and the Priest who led the mass spoke of what was already in my heart about Jesus.
He spoke of the harsh, punishing and largely unforgiving remote God of the Old Testament and God's reassessment in sending His son, flesh of his flesh, to show us that He loves us and is willing to sacrifice what He holds most dear, his son, in order to save us and let us feel the depth of his love.
While I'm not a huge fan of organized religion, and still have doubts that Jesus was truly God's son, I am enamored of a man who spoke only of love and forgiveness during his brief 33 years on earth. That is really all I need to know in order to value and worship the season of his birth.
We had a lovely post mass meal, as is our family custom, and a nice Christmas Day dinner as well. I hope all of you had a joyous Christmas, surrounded by family and friends.
So….if you will permit me one more sappy blog of the season, I'd like to share something with you.
This year has been challenging for me. When you live on a fixed income, with no further means to increase it, that ghostly six percent of commodity inflation really starts to pinch a bit. But, I must have read or heard at least a dozen admirable people, in all walks of life, say that, when you give of your time or your money, somehow it all comes back to you in some form of reward. Yes. A reward above and beyond the great feeling you get when giving.
So, finally, after hearing that many times, this year I've stepped up my giving a bit, a little more for one more sick child at St. Judes, or perhaps a few extra dollars to buy a bag of dog food or a blanket at the Humane Society, the extra usually driven by a story I read of needy folks who I heard about.
And lo and behold, those "giving sages" were right! Three of my immediate neighbors have had their sewer lines go out on them and have had to fork out $5,000 dollars for trenching and replacement of broken pipes. And mine have held up though it is equally as old. And during the period I have stepped up my giving I have had no major appliances break down nor has a major home repair been needed. That is quite unusual for a sixty year old house (and in previous years I've had to go into debt to affect a home repair). Not this year…knock on wood….or divine providence?
So last Friday I'm sitting at the kitchen table and I'm writing out my bills. I budgeted my Christmas expenses, added to my other monthly expenses, and I'm writing checks to send out. Then the mailman knocks on my door and I'm asked to sign for a certified letter. The letter is from a large Human Resource Management center in Los Angeles.
The letter informs me that I am now eligible for a $110 dollar per month lifetime pension from a company I worked for in the Middle East for a time. So I call to confirm this and find out it's true and that my enrollment package will be arriving in the mail this week.
So…I leave it to you to judge. Where I had no possible avenue for increasing my income, a source of help comes from the most unlikely source….a small stipend I was not even aware of! Are those "giving sages" right?….does our creator have the time to look down on little old us and bestow divine providence upon our little heads?
I would have been just as happy to enjoy what I feel in my heart when giving to others…but it doesn't hurt me a bit to think "the big guy upstairs" is looking out for me. :)