A Season of Gentleness – December 2016 Column

20101226-421wThe Christmas season is a time when people are often a little extra kind and I love that. I hope we can ease into a season of gentleness as 2016 comes to a close.

This year has been difficult for a number of people I know. It brought illnesses, uncertain job futures and loss of loved ones into their worlds. For whatever reason it seems difficulties travel in tandem sometimes. It makes no sense that an arbitrary date on a calendar would mean anything, but we categorize things this way nonetheless.

In my family we lost my sister in law Mattie, loved ones struggled with health issues and there was less time to connect with those we care most about.

But, there was also happiness in the year past and there’s more on the horizon. My great-nephew and his wife are expecting a baby boy in the spring. Few things are more delightful than the anticipation of a new person in the world. I, as well as others, are looking at new possibilities in the coming year. Many of us are surrounded by people who love us no matter what, and there is little that can compare to that.

Thinking about the end of 2016 I was reminded of Storyteller Kevin Kling’s reminder to focus on things that can’t be held – love, truth and beauty. These are the things we look for when trouble comes calling.

Kling has a unique perspective on loss. He was born with a disabled left arm, and lost the use of his right one after a motorcycle accident. He talks about how when people are born with loss they grow from it. But when loss comes later in life, they grow toward it. But loss doesn’t go away. We heal from it but it remains a loss.

So many broken hearts in 2016. I suppose that is the case every year but this year I’ve seen some of it up close. It is a reminder that it’s happening all the time to people around us. People have difficulties we can never imagine.

As we look forward to a new year and a new beginning, I’m going to celebrate this season of gentleness with a reminder to myself that everyone is struggling. Some struggles I see and some are invisible. But they are all real.

Maybe the best Christmas gift I can offer to the world, and to myself, is to rest in the grace of a gentle end to a difficult year. And to focus on the love, truth and beauty found in 2016 and the promise of more in 2017.

Comfort food seems the right way to end this year. These are welcome any time of year and are their own brand of love.

Brownies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup flour
¼ cup cocoa
2/3 cup pecans

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Mix flour and cocoa together and add to wet mixture and mix. Add pecans and mix. Bake in 8 by 8 pan at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.

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