“Who is there that would wish to be surrounded
by all the riches in the world and enjoy every
abundance in life, and yet not love or be loved?”
At 9:15 on Christmas Eve I left that house and made my way to Church. The roads were empty and I could feel the wind grip the car as I watched sheets of driving rain reflect in my lights. I crossed the bridge leading to downtown to find brightly decorated and deserted streets. The holiday decorations and lights swayed in the heavy wind, but no one would see them; the weather and virus would keep everyone in tonight.
Normally the Church is filled by 9:30. The candlelight service is a tradition for many families, and seating is at a premium, but not tonight. The Sanctuary was empty, save Father John, Deacon Midge, our organist, Jim, and three soloists, Vicky, Runette and Milah. At 9:45 Jim began to play the service’s prelude. The powerful music from the organ filled the empty Sanctuary, and I’m certain it filtered its way to the sidewalk surrounding the Church, but the rain and winds let the notes fall silently to the streets. This evening I would be serving as Lector and reading the Lesson and the Epistle. The service began shortly after 10:00 and within a few moments it was time for me to take the Lectern. This is not new to me as I have served in this capacity for years, but tonight was different. In years past, as the Lessons were read, one looked out at a Church filled with candles, and beyond them to families and friends coming together to celebrate the birth of a child. This year, I looked at an iPhone that was streaming the live service via Facebook. We were still together in Spirit, but it wasn’t the same; I missed having shared this night with others.
The Roman philosopher Seneca wrote, “There is no enjoying the possession of anything valuable unless one has someone to share it with.” This is the power of relationships, and hopefully, if we have learned anything in the past year it is this, a life without relationships is empty and meaningless. So how can you use this lesson as you look to the year ahead? What relationship priorities will you establish and with whom; be it family, friends, colleagues, clients or even God, and equally important, how can this be accomplished? The answer is simple; through communication.
Relationships are both perplexing and rewarding. They take time and require maintenance. They can expose and distract us. They can cause pain and anguish, but we are nothing without them. A good relationship enables us to be part of a larger whole, and good relationships require us to be present, listen, empathize and openly share our thoughts. We do that through the manner in which we communicate our messages, and likewise the manner in which we receive those of others. Are we present when they speak? Do we actively listen to not only what is being said, but how it is expressed? Can we empathize, and do our words express our understanding? Likewise, do we foster communication within and take the time to listen to our own voice and let that message guide our actions.
Our relationships come to us in many forms; mentor, colleague, parent, child, spouse or best friend. They enable us to become whole. Without them we are a fraction of what we can be. The year ahead looks promising and soon, God willing, we will once again be able to interact absent the fear of illness. As we go into this year, sow the seeds of new relationships, nurture existing ones, and celebrate those that have enabled you to find happiness, for it is through our relationships with others that we discover our true purpose and the relationship we have with the One who created us
Embrace the Challenge