Essays on Faith: A season of chores, a season of light

It’s less than two weeks until Christmas and I’m not ready. Many interruptions have prevented me from doing what I need to do.

I make a list each day of what I’d like to accomplish, but at the end of the day, there are things I didn’t get done that have to be moved to the next list.

I’m not making any headway and I’m getting frustrated!

Christmas is supposed to be fun. Exciting. A time of sharing, a time for loving and giving — but it seems to be more of a chore for me this year than it’s ever been before.

However, in a very short while, it’ll all be over. Looking back after a few days, it will seem as though it never was — and hopefully, I will forget how difficult it was. I’ll only remember the good things: getting together with loved ones, the laughs, the delicious foods, the beautiful decorations and, most of all, the reason we celebrate this special season every year — to honor the birth of Baby Jesus.

As Christmas Day draws near, some of us may feel many emotions. Our homes are decorated for the season, children glow with excitement and expectation, and many holiday parties and programs are planned.

Christmas is a joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus, yet for some, the joy of this special season is elusive. Perhaps you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one or are missing family members far away. It’s heart-rending to envision the smiling face of a loved one who celebrated with you last year and know that the same face will be absent from the family gathering this year.

The first Christmas after my father passed away, my mother was so sad and lethargic that, for the first time ever, she didn’t decorate her home lavishly as she always had. She said she’d always done it mostly for him anyway because, like a child, he loved the lights and decorations.

If your family is missing a precious one this year, cherish the beautiful memories — holding them in your hearts — and, with God’s help, you can go on, because He’s right beside you, helping you carry the burden.

If you’re feeling less than exuberant about the most important holiday of the year, perhaps now would be a fitting time for rediscovering the meaning of Christmas.

The Gospel of Luke tells a story of the baby Jesus, born and laid in a lowly manger. The stars stood still over the spot; a holy hush filled the air. At the moment of birth, the manger became a sacred place.

Holiday celebrations with family and friends are meant to be joyful. When we feel ambivalent about them, we must consider this: As we greet our dear ones with loving gratitude for the unique qualities they each bring to the gathering and offer a sincere, “Merry Christmas,” the light of Christ within us shines forth. It expresses through the love we feel and share with everyone around us.

It shines through us as we welcome guests into our home, as we worship, as we sing, as we give thanks around the dining table, as we express love and appreciation for gifts given and received and, finally, the light of Christ shines through us as we meditate quietly in the candlelight.

In the silence of meditation, we feel the warm embrace of Spirit. It is in the stillness that God strengthens our faith and fills us with courage. In the silence, there is power, depth, beauty and strength. Just as we feel refreshed after a good night’s sleep, we are rejuvenated during quiet times of reflection and communion with God. Cares slip away. We are at peace.

This is the season of light, a time when hearts are aglow. It is a time of insight, radiance and joy; a time of gentle caring and thoughtfulness; a time to share love, joy and peace; a season of embracing wonderment and beholding things dear to our hearts.

There is a light that guides us as well. We look to the light within and receive insight. Giving thanks for this inner light and the new revelations it brings, we rejoice in the awareness that the very first gift of Christmas was the greatest gift of all. It was given to us by God on that glorious night so long ago. It was His only son, Jesus Christ!

And we realize it doesn’t matter if we’re on schedule or not. What matters is that we give our very best to this Holy season, cherishing our loved ones and being thankful for our blessings.

Who knows what the next year may bring?

The next day? Hour? Minute?

Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro.

Essays on Faith may be submitted to gazette@wvgazettemail.com.

Find more Essays on Faith at www.wvgazettemail.com/life/religion.

Funerals for Monday, January 27, 2020

Davis, Valerie - 11 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Hamrick, Leonard - 1 p.m., Waters Funeral Chapel, Summersville.

Hughes Jr., Denver - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Keen, Cora - 2 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Lazear, Elizabeth - 7 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Masters, Delores - 1 p.m., Glen Ferris Apostolic Church, Glen Ferris.

Milroy, Miller - 11 a.m., Simons-Coleman Funeral Home, Richwood.

Petro, Edith - 11 a.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Phelps, Herbert - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Stanley, Gary - 1 p.m., Pryor Funeral Home, East Bank.

Stewart, Donna - 1 p.m., First United Methodist Church, South Charleston.

Walker, Iva - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Wilkinson, Catharine - Noon, Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor Chapel.

Williams, Joseph - 3 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.