Whether you are religious or not, the Christmas week provides an ideal period for reflection.
It is the end of the year in the calendar used by most of the world. It’s when many workers receive Christmas bonuses from their employers, many people travel to long abandoned home towns and home lands.
For some, the first time in 12 months they will see parents, grandparents, sons, daughters, siblings, extended family members.
For most Christians, attending church to celebrate the birth of Christ. For some, one of the few times during the year they will see the inside of a church.
For most in the West and elsewhere, a week off work after weeks of busier than usual activity. A week of respite from the shopping frenzy.
For farmers in the Northern hemisphere, an end to the long hours and continual battle with the weather to complete the harvest.
For farmers in much of the Southern Hemisphere, the arrival of the main rainy season, in good years a release from worry about drought and crop failure.
Whatever your circumstances, it is likely that you will have more opportunity for quiet reflection during the next week than at any other time of the year.
Will your reflection be about Christmases past? Christmases still to come? The state of the world? Your life, your achievements, successes, happy moments, good relationships? Or will it be about disappointments, failures, toxic relationships?
Will reflection make you feel happy, positive about the future or sad, depressed, fearful about the next year, the years still to come?
It’s your choice.
There is plenty to worry about if we choose to worry, to take a depressing view of the future, I listed a few in my previous post.
There are many real and dangerous threats to our financial, physical, cultural and emotional safety. We should not ignore them and we should do everything in our power to counter them.
But we should not let them destroy us.
We can choose to reflect on the things that went well during the year. What we still have, not what we might have lost, money, things or opportunities.
Reflection on the simple things, if you are reading this, you are still alive, have a computer or phone and an internet connection to read it on. You have electricity, a roof over your head, are almost certainly anticipating a big meal and companionship tomorrow.
You are better off than millions of people on the planet, probably billions. Not just better off, better off than most of them could imagine in their wildest dreams.
I have had Christmases when logic and reason told me that there was no hope for a future. In Rhodesia, when my father was murdered by terrorists days after Christmas in 1979, when Sue and I were spending Christmas in a tiny cottage with no money, no assets and no idea of where and how we would live after our farm was taken illegally by the Zimbabwe government in 2002. Just weeks after the unpleasant experience of my 3 days and nights in a filthy, overcrowded police cell.
But life did go on. Things improved. We moved to Canada. We had many bleak Christmases far from our families and old friends, unaccustomed to the bitter cold, snow. No money for anything but the most basic Christmas presents. Gradually things did get better, we made new friends, a new life, we got used to having cold Christmases instead of hot ones.
In my period of reflection next week, I will do my “archive” exercise that I had written about in this post in 2012 I don’t spend as much time on looking back as I used to. I spend more time looking forward.
This quote comes to mind:
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.- Soren Kierkegaard
In my reflection, I recall my fathers words during the cold war when fear about a nuclear holocaust was rampant. He told me how even as a young child at the end of WWI, he understood why few people in a desperately miserable part of London could see any hope for the future.
But things did improve.
He told me about his time in the army in WWII, as the horrors of that war emerged and the future of Britain looked grim, gloom and dismay were everywhere. There was little to support hope for a better future.
But the war ended, things did improve.
He said to me, that as bad as things looked then and later during other conflicts and crises, he had faith that things would improve.
They did and they generally do.
They will again.
The pendulum will swing back towards common sense, pride in our Western democracies and a realisation that we will make a stand against ISIS, the invasion of the West, the erosion of our values and the destruction of our culture by political correctness..
The signs that this is happening are there, the most obvious is the rising support for Donald Trump’s nomination as Republican Presidential candidate.
There are others, I will be writing about more of them in future posts.
As my mother with her stoic outlook used to say:
This too shall pass.
In your reflection during the next week, use a mirror with a positive focus, you’ll get much better results.
Wishing you a Merry, Safe and Peaceful Christmas.