Love the best you can
“…day by day Jesus’ parents got up and did the best they could.”
After the lights and songs of Christmas dimmed and faded, many of us settled resolvedly into the reality of January. These first weeks of the new year can often be difficult with post-holiday expenses catching up with our budgets and feelings of “cabin fever” threatening to isolate and overcome us. It is a month when reality can fall with brutal and unrelenting hardness, a time when we all try to “just survive” physically, financially and spiritually.
A reason to get up in the morning
This January may hit us harder than usual as we learn about more lost jobs and more cutbacks in more areas of our everyday lives. When you suddenly have no income, and the rest of the world just seems to continue without noticing, your world seems very cold indeed. So you turn down the heat, eat more macaroni, take public transportation and forego recreation—all in an attempt to keep life “normal” during hard times. Some of us seek assistance from shelters and pantries who also are working harder with less.
In my January, the phone for the Project Welcome pantry that Sister Chris and I run never stops ringing, with calls waiting two and three people deep at times. The stories of need never end.
Do the best you can
It is now when I think of Mary and Joseph caring for their infant son during difficult times. Alone and far from home, the couple shudders in a barn, trying to keep their baby warm and fed. There is nothing romantic about their situation other than the miracle of their baby boy who must seem both a great blessing and an impossible burden. Yet day by day Jesus’ parents got up and did the best they could.
The three kings visited the infant and his parents and brought great wealth and blessings, but then followed the paranoid King Herod who threatened the infant’s very life. The couple saw only one solution—to escape to Egypt, the land of slavery, where Mary, Joseph and Jesus lived as refugees until Herod’s death. In Egypt the refugee family had no relatives, did not speak the language and no doubt lived hand to mouth. They got up every morning and did their best.
When life holds very little romance, when times and feelings are cold and icy and it seems that no one cares, it is then when Christians are called to continue to love the best they can the people in their care. Although our care might not be glamorous, we love, we feed and we continue. Even if, as is often the case during January days, our best and most discerning efforts seem to fall far short of what is needed, we continue remembering the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “God does not ask us to be successful, only loving.”
Dr. Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
This seemed like such an impossible dream for Martin Luther King—he was not able to imagine that soon America would have an African American president! We too, must dream big during these difficult days. We must offer our weary spirits to God knowing that the Holy Spirit will empower our efforts and build a dream bigger than we can imagine.
May God warm our hearts and our January days.
How does God warm your January days? How do you keep things “normal” in hard times? Share your thoughts by clicking Contact Us
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Thursday, January, 15, 2009