Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Unexpected Good

As the Christmas holiday approaches ( it is, after all, one of the holy days recognized in the “happy holidays” greeting), Christians recall the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus (“the holiday infant”, if you prefer). It is a story full of paradox: a child born to a virgin; a king coming into the world in the humble circumstances of a stable; and G-d himself becoming incarnate through an infant who cries, slobbers, wets, and poops just like the rest of us. That is an amazing way to begin a life with us on earth, but it was the only way to make that life authentically human.

We often associate Christmas with miracles. Let me tell you of a couple of good things that came out of something that was not so good – or seemed so at the time. I don’t know if they rise to the level of miracles, but they are events that seem worth sharing at this time of year.

If you follow this blog, you know that I wrote a few weeks ago about our farm shop being burglarized. Lots of tools were stolen and we felt our security was violated. It took a while to get over that feeling of dread that someone was about to invade our space again. It was not a huge irreversible tragedy, as so many endure, but it was one of those knocks you get in life that make you wonder “why?”

Soon after this incident, the first good thing happened. My neighbor, with whom I went to school as a cub, stopped in to visit. Though we live across the section from one another, it seems we are too busy to stop and talk. Well, my neighbor made it a point to stop and see how we were doing. You see, his father’s shop had also been broken into and it was cleaned out even more thoroughly than ours. Reconnecting is a good thing. We should take the initiative to do that more often.

Then came the second. A man who had done business with my father during all of his farming years, and who had been a friend to our family ever since, found out about the theft. He explained that he was now getting up in years, and he had some tools in his shop that he would like to give to us if we could use them.

I was deeply moved by this kind gesture. He had felt very kindly toward my father, and that was reciprocated through the years as they had both always dealt fairly and honestly with one another. This common goodness led to an unexpected blessing, which I got to participate in through the good graces of my father. It also opened my eyes to appreciate the impact my father has made in his life just through living right. I’ve heard the saying that if you live a good life, you get to enjoy it all twice, including the times when you get to think back and enjoy it again. But it also spreads out to others. Thanks, Dad.

These are only two examples among others that could be mentioned. These encounters may not be miraculous, but they remind us that there is indeed much good in the world, and that we can experience it even as a consequence of events that don’t seem so good at the time. So, before we pass judgment too quickly, we should pause and reflect. And be prepared to give thanks for what might be coming.

Merry Christmas.

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