Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy Illusion to you

Henry Wordsworth Longfellow wrote a beautiful Christmas hymn that we sing this time of the year. He wrote it in the 19th century. He lived 1807-1882. The hymn is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day . It is a stirring hymn and the first and third verses contain these words:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day.
Their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words repeat.
Of peace on earth, good will towards men.

And in despair I bowed my head.
"There is no peace on earth," I said.
For hate is strong and mocks the song.
Of peace on earth, good will towards men.

I studied Longfellow at Huntingdon College back in the 60's in an English literature class I was required to take to obtain a degree. He was a prolific writer and is quite famous for the words which he penned. He wrote An Ode on Intimations of Immortality . He demonstrates himself as a man of faith and strong religious beliefs.

I am approaching my 66th birthday and have walked the paths of life for some time now. I have experienced: Christmas as a child, baseball, football, basketball, track and field as both a player and supporter. I have lived the thrill of: first kisses, sunrises, sunsets, starry nights, scary storms and new and old dreams. I have survived: getting married, getting divorced, many moves to new towns, new jobs, old jobs, heavy assignments and aches, pains and fevers. I have met many people: Young folks, old folks, regular folks, important folks, humble folks and arrogant folks. I have stood on stages and taught or spoken to large crowds, small groups, classrooms, and mentored people one on one. I have seen people at their best and their worst. I have comforted small children and dying friends. I have been complimented, flirted with, prayed for and preyed upon. I have been spoken ill of, spoken ill of others, debated, confronted others and been betrayed in the most injurious ways. I have loved, been loved, treated kindly and unkindly and swept aside by people that I gave 30 years of my life to.

Yet from where I stand, I know that I will experience many more things both good and bad before I sleep the deep sleep of death. I am convinced that life is an illusion. We make of it what we will. That is not an original thought or idea. We can choose to be cynical about the scars we have been dealt or to be happy for what we have overcome.

I have experienced the birth of all my children and grand-children. I have held them close and hugged and kissed them and tickled thier tummies. I have seen them accomplish some special things in their lives. They are a lively and special tribe of people. I have brought home puppies from the pet store to squeals of laughter and adoration. Is anything as soft and warm as a small puppy asleep in your lap? I have taken those puppies to the vet for one last visit and have had their lives ended. Is there anything as despairing as the helpless grief we feel at seeing them leave us?

We live in a fallen and selfish world. I practice in the world of real estate. Trust me there are a lot people out there who need to be locked up somewhere away from decent people. I have lobbied government all over the country. Trust me there are people out there that only care about you for your vote, your financial support or your influence. I will take the company of a grand child or a warm puppy anyday to theirs.

Longfellow wrote in his fourth verse of this song:

Then peeled the bells more loud and deep.
God is not dead nor does he sleep.
The wrong shall fail the right prevail.
With peace on earth, good will to men.

It is that peace which I seek. I wish it for you. Particularly so at this time of the year when much of the world is an illusion of commercialism, greed, malice and downright hostility.