Try To Be Kinder
In his own inimitable style, baseball's Yogi Berra once said, "You should always go to other people's funerals, because if you don't, they might not go to yours."
And then there's the advice of another man with a very different approach to honoring the dead. With the exception of a few immediate family members -- this man never attended the funeral of any of his close friends or acquaintances. When asked why this was so, he said, "whenever I hear of the passing of someone I know, instead of attending the funeral, I go to visit someone living -- someone I know who is sick, or lonely or hurting in some way. In this way, I believe I am truly honoring the soul that has passed."
Now I am not suggesting that we stop attending funerals -- or attend them in the hopes that the departed will one day miraculously appear at our own -- but nevertheless, the point shouldn't be lost on us. Of course as a community of faith, one of the most important things that we do is honor those who have passed -- and offer our steadfast love and support to the grieving loved ones left behind. But as a community of faith -- because of our belief in the power and goodness of God and the examples of our Lord Jesus -- we must always be willing to answer His call to be kind and compassionate ministers of service to the living.
In the New York Times best seller based on the author's convocation address at Syracuse University, George Saunders writes, "here's something I know to be true: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering and I responded, sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly."
The author continued, "Or to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet."
And then, he offered, "It's a little simplistic, maybe, and certainly hard to [...]
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We've got a million of them (well, almost).
At Christmas, all roads lead home. The filled planes, packed trains, overflowing buses, all speak eloquently of a single destination: home. Despite the crowding, the crushing, the delays, the confusion, we clutch our bright packages and beam our anticipation. We are like birds driven by an instinct we only faintly understand—the hunger to be with our own people. There must be some deep psychological reason why we turn so instinctively toward home at this special time. Perhaps we are acting out the ancient story of a man and a woman and a Coming child, plodding along with their donkey toward their destination. It was necessary for Joseph, the earthly father, to go home to be taxed. Each male had to return to the city of his birth. The Child who was born on that first Christmas grew up to be a man: Jesus. He healed many people, taught us many important things. But the message that has left the most lasting impression and given the most hope and comfort is this: that we do have a home to go to, and there will be an ultimate homecoming. A place where we will be reunited eternally with those we love. Holmes, M., (Adapted).
/Top Picks, Secret of Happiness,
There once was a very learned philosophy professor who had earned not one, not two, but three post-graduate degrees. And his head was crammed full of just about everything philosophers of every Age had to say about happiness. Still, he pondered the subject incessantly. He was so obsessed with the question that he decided to set out in search of the wisest and happiest person in the world, wherever it took him, and at whatever cost. After years of travel to distant places, and at great expense, he finally was told of a woman who fit the description of the person he was looking for. And so he set out on a rugged journey to the top of a high mountain where this wisest and happiest of all persons lived. The woman greeted him with a warm smile and a sympathetic ear. She listened patiently for hours as he described his pursuit of happiness through years and years of study and research. At the conclusion of his long discourse, he begged the wise woman to let him in on the secret of happiness -- the secret that has eluded him all his life. "Tell me now," he demanded, but the wise woman would not be hurried. â€œI suggest we have some tea,â€ she said. Unhurriedly, she began the tea ceremony and slowly poured the brew into the professor's cup. She poured until the cup was overflowing. And she continued to pour until, finally, the professor asked her to stop. â€œJust tell me the secret,â€ he shouted. â€œThis I cannot do,â€ said the wise woman. â€œLike this teacup that is full to overflowing, your mind is so full of your own knowledge and your own thoughts that you have no room for anything more. If I tried to tell you the secret of happiness, it would only spill out. You must first empty yourself!â€ So what is the secret? We're all in on it, arenâ€™t we? Or are we? So just to be sure, letâ€™s consult the wisest, happiest Person who ever lived. Letâ€™s ask the Lord Jesus! The secret to happiness, is doing God's Will!
Frederich Engels was a German socialist leader and political philosopher who collaborated with Karl Marx on the Communist Manifesto in 1848. When he was a youngster, his father took him on a tour of the family textile factory—the factory that was to become young Frederich’s inheritance. The six-year-old lad was bothered by the miserable working conditions there. He saw children about his own age working long hours. He didn’t have the courage to ask his stern father any questions about the situation, but he did question his mother when he got home. “Will I soon have to go to work in the factory?” he asked. His mother reassured him. “No Frederich, you won’t. You can be glad that we own the factory.” That didn’t quite satisfy him. He asked, “How about the children who do work there? Are they glad?” His mother now put him off. She said, “Frederich, it’s better that you don’t worry your head about such things. You can’t change things.” The problem bothered the boy. He thought about it as he went to sleep. The next day when his mother woke him, he said, “Mother, suppose I want to change things . . . then what . . . ?” ”Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us . . . “ (Eph. 5:1-2).
You can tell with certainty that men, not women, wrote most of the early mythology concerning the creation of the world and the beginning of mankind. You can tell it because of the recurring theme of women getting us into all kinds of trouble. For example, in Greek mythology there is Pandora, the first woman. There are many versions of the Pandora story, but according to one of the most common ones, Prometheus stole fire from heaven and brought it down to us mortal men. Whereupon, the chief god, Zeus, was so angry that he created women as a punishment. The other gods decided to cooperate and they provided certain gifts for this first woman, Pandora. Aphrodite gave her beauty, Hermes gave her cunning, and other gods contributed, until finally it came the turn of Zeus himself. He gave her a box — Pandora’s Box — in which he had placed all of the blessings he intended mankind to have. He instructed Pandora to deliver them to man. But there was one condition: under no circumstances was Pandora to open the lid and look inside the box. Her curiosity got the better of her, she took the lid off, and all of mankind’s blessings escaped. When Pandora saw this happen, she put the lid on as quickly as possible and was able to save just one blessing. Of all the blessings Zeus had intended for mankind only the blessing of hope remained. Sometimes it seems as if we live in an even stranger world, because Pandora’s box appears to be empty. Our present age is being characterized by many people as one of hopelessness. Listen to the music. Look at the art. Read the literature. There is a mood of doom-and-gloom that pervades it all — individuals breaking down under the pressures of life, and many of us unable to find solutions to the massive problems that keep pressing in on us as a people, as a society and as a world. This same quality of doom-and-gloom pervades even our daily conversation. We tell one another there is just no way out. The world is a mess. Without doubt, there are many, many people in our world today who feel that Pandora’s box is empty, many people for whom even hope is gone. Against the background of this fact about our contemporary culture, we Christians pray the petition of hope which forms part of the Lord’s Prayer: THY KINGDOM COME! Every time we offer this petition we affirm an underlying hope that is grounded in the very core of Being Itself, in the very Essence of God and His intentions for us.More