Gifts of The Wonderful

“The main trouble is there are too many people who don’t know where they’re going and they want to get there too fast!”

Sylvester (The Bishop’s Wife, 1947)

I’m waiting for The Wonderful. 

It’s coming as sure as there will be white Christmases, holiday decorations, familiar old songs, eggnog, stuffed stockings and presents under the tree.  Many of us have the luxury of fond memories, enticing smells of things cooking and a landscape that twinkles with a thousand lights to remind us.  Some have not been as fortunate. 

But we must remember that there is more to Christmas than the things we might receive and give.  I have come to call it The Wonderful.  It has to do with a marvelous transformation that seems to happen to people this time of the year.  Waiting for The Wonderful creates an atmosphere of childlike joy.  The possibility of a miracle reigns supreme. Something extraordinary is coming as our waiting takes on a joy of its’ own.

Christmas movies always put me ‘in the mood’ for the coming festivities.  Among my favorites are old black and whites from post-World War II. The men and women who had been engaged in devastating struggles of battle were back home and in the process of creating a bold new world.  They rolled up their sleeves, went to work, built houses, attended schools, and dreamed dreams of prosperity. 

By 1947, the simple times and ways of a Norman Rockwell agri-rural America were forever altered.  Along with the many changes came a more bountiful and materialistic focus on Christmas.  Presents were stacked under lighted trees instead of hung on branches.  More became better…and that notion was reflected in the movies. 

Two very different films were presented that year.  One was ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ which portrayed the Macys parade and an abundance of shopping.  The other was ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ which reminded a hurried nation to slow it down and to think about what our Christmas observance was all about.  This picture sums up the essence of The Wonderful.  It ended with a Bishop’s sermon written by an angel.  This is what he said;

“Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells and with gifts. But especially with gifts.

You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled…all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up.

The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we are celebrating. Don’t ever let us forget that. Let us ask ourselves what he would wish for most… and then let each put in his share. Loving-kindness, warm hearts and the stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”

Today, amid all the hustle and bustle, I will remember to fill a stocking in my heart with the most important gift of all. I will eagerly welcome The Wonderful.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Rejoice, Rejoice; The Season of Light is Beckoning

“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”

John Calvin

This Sunday in Advent asks for us to rejoice in the season.  We can see the changes wherever we go during Christmastime. Colored and white twinkle lights adorn trees, houses, barns…and even gaily displayed on a whole group of people in Pelzer, South Carolina.  What a delight it is to be surrounded by the joy of light and lights.  Today implores us to be mindful. It asks for us to join hands in an effort to make the world a gentler place of rejoicing.  What better time than now to start a journey of healing and awakening?  We have the light to guide us just as the Wise Men did more than two thousand years ago.

The Pelzer Light People

All of this incredible celebration is shining into our hearts on Gaudete Sunday.  But I want to share another kind of rejoicing that has touched me deeply.  I have had the great honor and privilege of listening to the “Fifth Step” of people recovering from the chronic diseases of addiction.  When one arrives at this point, a fearless moral inventory has been painstakingly prepared.  Resentments have been identified.  Even personal ownership in those offenses has been taken.  A lifetime of secrets is shared and confessed.  Burdens are set aside.  A place is made for rejoicing where depression and regret once reigned. From the heart of darkness comes a beacon of hope. 

I have learned from these brave people that light, love, and joy can glow in the most hopeless situations.  I have learned that healing and awakening are always possible.  I have learned that we are never alone.  I have learned that we are all in this together for a very good reason.  I have learned that Christmas rejoicing can happen every day of the year if we allow it. That transformation is just what we need today.

“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings.  “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy.  I am as giddy as a drunken man.”

Charles Dickens 

A Choice For Happiness

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The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise man grows it under his feet.” ~ James Oppenheim

We have choices to make.  They lie before us waiting for fulfillment.  Each of us has the ability to be happy and set out to make happiness happen.

Despite the problems and woes that have littered life…despite the things that are looming in the distance…we can still make the decision to be happy and to create happiness around us.  There is no magic formula.  It is just about deciding to accept the people, places and things surrounding us as being just the way they are.  We can complain and whine over our circumstances or celebrate the fact that we survived despite (or because) of them.  Happiness is an inside job and the choice to recognize that truth is ours to make.

I hear people grumble so often that someone has made them unhappy.  Something happened years ago which ruined their lives.  Losses and tragedies have made it impossible to allow for real happiness.  There is not enough money.  There is nobody to love.  There is no fun at work.

On and on we look for happiness outside of ourselves only to be disappointed when it is fleeting.  Only the false self or ego drives us to find happiness anywhere but within our own hearts.  We are immersed in the real happiness for which we were created.  We have the freedom to choose to allow God to be God and accept the contents of the moment as a reason to celebrate being alive.

Make the decision now.  Be happy.  Work for happiness in all you do and say.  You might be surprised as it abundantly rains down and all around as a result.

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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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The Reverence of Kindness

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“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” ~ Mother Teresa

We have the wonderful opportunity to bring a message of kindness, hope and joy where we might have inflicted damage and beaten others down in the past. We are all starved for such words and so richly blessed when we hear them. 

I wonder what it might be like, or what sort of kindnesses we might extend if we recognized God in the face of everyone we meet.  Can you imagine the awe we might have for one another?  The reality that each of us is created in the image of God should be enough to at least give us pause. 

The stranger, the wounded, and even the arrogant people would become our beloved relative.  This is not some dreamy illusion but is a spiritual truth.  The only thing lacking is our reverence.  It is reverence that identifies the sacred.  And the sacred surrounds each and every one of us.

“Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life.” ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

Our mission is to treat each other very well.  The final words attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi were ‘brothers, while there is still time, let us do good’.  This means that kindness and compassion should always be our lot. 

We can only do this sort of good when we are filled with reverence and awe for the very fact that the other is our relative, our dear, found relative.  Kindness, gratitude and gentleness will become second nature. 

Love will replace suspicion and guardedness will be exchanged for generosity.  We cannot afford to waste time arguing and grasping for personal power, control and relevance.  Now is the time to seek God in the present moment, in the hearts and eyes of our fellow travelers, and in the hands that long for our touch.

_______________________

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member name=”Robert Kenneth Jones” position=”Columnist” image_url=”https://chaplainusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/robert.jpg” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/KenJonesBoy” linkedin_url=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-kenneth-jones-8861183/” admin_label=”Robert Kenneth Jones” _builder_version=”3.0.101″ global_module=”26968″ saved_tabs=”all”]

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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Life Is A Banquet

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“In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

The warm showers and new life offered up to us from Mother Earth, provided by a loving God, are reason enough to celebrate.  We take ourselves way, way, way too seriously.  There is joy and humor to be found all around us, yet so often we trudge along with heavy hearts, one-track minds and narrowed tunnel vision.  We are so darned self-absorbed and preoccupied that we miss the whole thing.  Political correctness stifles the laugh that stirs in our bellies.  We fret excessively about offending…or being inappropriate. 

Springtime reminds us to begin anew, to put aside our old worn out worry, hurry and hate that we drag around from the winter chill.  There is plenty enough time to pick it back up if we so desire.  Now is the time for merriment.

The thought of former Chicago Cubs third baseman, Ron Santo pops into my head when I think about finding joy in every moment.  Here was a guy with every reason in the world to be a martyr and carry resentment.  He had juvenile diabetes and it was the serious kind.  There was never a doubt that the progression of the disease would take him out one day.  Despite the gloomy prognosis, he played the game of baseball with a flourish.  He was known for jumping up in the air and clicking his heels at Wrigley displaying his great exuberance for life.

“Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death. Live! Live! Live!” ~ Auntie Mame (1958) with Rosalind Russell

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He found delight and humor in the Curse of The Cubs when a black cat circled him on third base one day in 1969.  He was funny, charming and delightful as the WGN announcer despite losing both of his legs later in life.  Ronny taught us that we all have trouble and afflictions…but that we should never let them get us down.  Nobody ever deserved being in the Baseball Hall of Fame more than Ron Santo.

We have more than enough reason to have LOTS of fun despite our hard times.  Let go and have a good belly laugh today!  Life is too short to be glum.

____________________

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member name=”Robert Kenneth Jones” position=”Columnist” image_url=”https://chaplainusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/robert.jpg” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/KenJonesBoy” linkedin_url=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-kenneth-jones-8861183/” admin_label=”Robert Kenneth Jones” _builder_version=”3.0.101″ global_module=”26968″ saved_tabs=”all”]

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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