Merry Christmas, PeaceBangers
In 1996, I was in my seminary internship and had Christmas Eve duties at church that prevented me from going home to Mom's for Christmas. By now, Christmas alone has become a regular thing, not nearly as painful and often quite enjoyable. But in that first year, I knew I would be in an awful way if I did not try to do something radically different; something that let my heart and my head know that the old traditions were over, I had a new role to play in the world, and I was giving my Christmases to the Lord, not to Lord & Taylor.
So I went on a silent retreat at a Cistercian Abbey in western Massachusetts.
Before I left, I got a package from home. In it, Mom included a letter from Santa that she said he had sent along early. It was rolled into a scroll and tied with a red ribbon. When I saw the curlicue writing, my eyes filled with tears. It said:
My Dear [PeaceBang],
It is becoming far too difficult to fill your Christmas Stocking, for you already are Blessed with your own rare natural gifts: intelligence, charm, wit, fortitude, determination, talent, loyalty, to name a very few.
Your spirit shines as bright as the Christmas Star, reaching out to those near and dear to you, and soon its rays will warm and nourish and heal many, many more of those who will need your strength and wisdom. I can only fill Stockings, so I need you to fill Hearts.
That is why I implore you to stay healthy, listen to your body and respect its demands.
You continue to be a fine young woman I continue to praise to the Mrs. and my Staff. We have watched you graduate from little [P.B.] to the proud [PeaceBang] that you wear so well.
May God, the Goddesses, the Earth's winds, the Loving Spirits of the Waters, Earth, Sky and Beyond, ever protect and cradle you from all Harm.
I am sending you my love,
This Christmas I wish you all the gift of love: love that pays attention, love that encourages, love that goads, love that understands, love that cradles, love that blesses you with all the strength you need to meet all the challenges of this life.
"Love one another as I have loved you."
Merry Christmas. Peace on Earth.