Two days after Christmas and New Years is five days out. The feeling is one of being somewhat suspended. No one expects to get a lot of business done this week unless you are in retail. “Let’s do lunch”? Not this week. In past years I’ve often taken this week off from the Catch, making it feel as if this week doesn’t count. But now that I’m writing, I know that it does.
Here in Laguna, it’s summer in suspension. It was 75 degrees yesterday and people were walking around town in their bathing suits. We traditionally have lots of visitors from the Midwest this week for the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game on New Years Day (this year they’re all from Michigan), and of course they are all going to come to the beach. This year it will be Spartan green all over town. For these people, 50 degrees is balmy. That’s our low temperature. You can always tell the tourists; they stand around with their faces toward the sun like they can’t believe they can actually feel it this time of year. (In Lansing, Michigan right now, it’s 25 degrees in the middle of the morning.) It makes it hard to get serious about anything in this environment.
And yet under the surface, life goes on, and angst is sometimes heightened at this time by expectations over family get togethers uncovering riffs and chasms in relationships that normally can be avoided. And yet, this is life, no less important than life in February or May.
What do we need in particular during this time? Lots of forgiveness, both given and received. Our failings and shortcomings are especially visible at this time.
Lots of love. When is there ever enough of this? Love can cover over a multitude of sins, and there will be no shortage of sins showing up this week.
Hope. Suicides are up during the holidays which means loss of hope. No way out. No reason to go on. We need to give people a reason to be alive even if just through a smile and a “Hello.” Lives have been saved by a mere, “How are you today?” Let people know they count.
Mercy. Mercy is not giving others what they deserve. Think about this in terms of yourself. If you don’t want to get what you deserve then you can’t hope that anyone else will either. To pardon yourself, you have to pardon everyone.
Grace. This is getting what we don’t deserve, and this too must be given in order to be received. Grace and mercy are both alike in this. Not that we’re earning either one by giving it out, but if we receive it without giving it, we are merely saying we haven’t really received it. You can’t accept what you don’t want for others or don’t understand. Once you receive and embrace either one of these, you will give it out. You can’t do any other.
I think we need to take time to get below the surface this week. There is a lot lurking there, and a lot that needs to be healed. That just may be the greatest holiday gift ever — to offer healing where needed.