Five Gifts at Christmas

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Five Gifts at Christmas

Postby Turk » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:13 pm

None of these five families have much in the way of material goods. They aren't wealthy monetarily. They don't drive fancy, new cars or live in huge, stately mansions, or wear expensive, luxurious clothing made for royalty. Mind you, none of these things are bad intrinsically but its what they may do to human beings and our behavior that turns the virtuous to greed, the kind to covetousness, and the most peaceful to hatred and war.
Yet, all of these five families share another bond of fate, one might say, a bond more profound, a deeper bond of trust in something or someone far greater than they. It is a bond of love that will not only sustain them through life's hardships, life's storms and tumults that were it not for love, that strength that such an emotion, such a gift that is given without need of reciprocity that will make these five families persevere and be triumphant and to make their lives ones to celebrate, ones in which to rejoice for the "herald angels" to sing and bless their "midnight clear," their "holy, silent night" when five small, unextraordinary, unknown places such as a tiny shepherd village called later Bethlehem; where something huge and grand and quite extraordinary would launch a faith of grace and gentleness and turn the unworthy valiant and give the "poor of spirit" who need no gold to make them rich but a power that could end war and greed and hatred and envy. For that power, that spirit of holiness was all around spread like the farmer who toils and plants in his fields the seeds of goodness, of love, of sustenance that was the Glory born some two thousand years ago, some two one thousand billion tears ago when choruses from these five unique but common places and people and all points in between them would sing "Halleluiah!" and give gifts of treasures far exceeding any measure of monetary or material meaning.
Dusk had set a few hours ago. Smoke from small. nondescript chimneys could be seen billowing upward into the night sky, then, vanish ghostlike with no ominous meaning than the morning mist that hovers momentarily, it, too, disappearing with no noticeable trace than its tiny water droplets upon the tiny blades of wild grass leaning softly in the Winter wind as if listening to something faint - a voice of angels singing perhaps? Here in this small, insignificant place called Christiansburg, Ohio there lives a family, a carpenter's family who would later tonight, this Christmas Eve, have born into their warm home an infant child the mother and father would name James. The father was honest and hard-working, constantly mending and making chairs and tables, each and every one uniquely hand-carved, hand-designed. He has a keen eye and lean muscles and he is always glad to help even the strangers who brought their broken furniture and asks only the smallest recompense, whatever they can afford. He loves his wife who is his constant companion and best friend. She is his life. This night, this Christmas Eve night, was not really any different than others, although it seemed somehow more peaceful, more calm, more quiet as the dark, colorless clouds floated by, as if an auditorium curtain was opening something magical and momentous.
Deep in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains of northern Mexico, along the short path of the Santa Maria riverstream, there is a tiny village called Buenaventura. It, too (like Christiansburg, Ohio), has no fame to hallmark, yet, it, too, has neither shame to shed. All the people who live in this remote place are humble in word and graceful in action. Their voices are reverent and respectful to all and their hands and backs, weathered by wind and heat, are strong and steadfast. For that is the way they live and the way they honor each other. In this tiny village of farmers and sheepherders and goat herders is a shepherd and his wife who, like the carpenter and his wife, would later tonight, this Christmas Eve night, give birth to an infant child they would name Emanuel. This husband, too, labored long in the hillsides and the vast mesas that seemed at night beneath the endless sky like sentinels, some ancient heavenly beings placed on earth to guard such tiny, places from the wrath sometimes unleashed by civilizations upon other civilizations. He, too, loves his wife dearly, calling her "my bright star that guides me home each night." She made clothing woven from the wool he gathered and all the villagers brought their own modest gifts when they came on burro or pony or dilapidated truck and bought her fine, warm shirts and blouses, pants and skirts.
Far across the Atlantic Ocean, in a far point in northern Ireland there is a tiny speck of a place called Ballycastle. It is nestled upon the crags and cliffs that jut out into the cold, seemingly merciless North Channel of the Irish Sea, like some kind of ancient gargoyle setting steadfastly and firmly upon the edge of some high, ancient cathedral built some 800 years ago, and the rainwater drips more like a cascading waterfall than softly as it once did when kings and saints walked this land and rode horses as if flying upon the Autumn wind, valiant and noble and true. It was these same winds that would send wayward sailors from the storms and haunting winds of the sea to spend a night at this tavern keeper's to calm their weary souls with good, stout ale and hot, tasty food. This tavern keeper's deerburgers were the best this side of Dublin and caused many great navigators of the seas to re-route their voyages just a little to enjoy his barbecued and grilled deerburgers moistened with a secret ale only the tavern keeper knew. This tavern keeper and his wife had worked and lived beneath these gray skies and even grayer cliffs of cold, hard granite their entire lives and even though they gladly opened their oaken doors and gave their generous and kindly hospitality to traveling sailors from as far north as Iceland and Norway and as far south as the warm coasts of Portugal, these two partners for life had never been anywhere else but tiny Ballycastle in the high north of old Ireland, gray as the ghosts of Bobby Sands, of the voices of McMurtry and Kennedy, sometimes solemn and sometimes humorous and the mournful words of James Joyce. The tavern keeper and his wife, however, were the cheeriest, most joyful, kindest of souls and every fisherman raised a lasting toast of good health and windward sails just before they would raise their anchors and drop their sails for other ports in other parts of the world. And like the husband and wife in Christiansburg, Ohio and like the husband and wife in Buenaventura, Mexico this particularly and seemingly ordinary couple in Ballycastle, North Ireland were about to give birth to an infant child this Christmas Eve as the moon was crossing the becalming night sky like an alley cat hurrying from the shelter of one hedgerow to another. They would name their newborn child Shannon for the long, peaceful river they longed to see at least once in their humble and devout and happy lives.
Far, far to the south of this desolate, isolated village of fishers of men and Celtic tales told and re-told again and again, is another place just as desolate, just as isolated from most of humanity. It is the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa and in it a refuge and place of preservation for the elephant and the lion who, even as mighty and fierce as they are, these great wild animals are endangered of extinction. For, often it seems, the more civilizations build and grow, the more of Nature is taken. This little village is called Ghanzi, a crossroad place of dirt roads leading out of the Kalahari, out of this sanctuary for the hyena and the tiny mongoose. Her, a man and his wife work and live. The husband is a park ranger for this huge desert domain of wildness, of massive rainstorms that flood the parched plains and wild fires so relentless they subdue everything in their path, making even the great lions run as fast and fearfully as the simple coyote who roam the desert like nomads with no homes. This husband and wife live a simple life in a simple hut they have had to re-build in some form or manner nearly every year they have lived here. Their most luxurious object, which is really a necessity, is their gasoline-operated generator that supplies their light and energy to do the normal, every-day things like cooking and cleaning. The husband is proud of his job, even as overwhelming it sometimes can be battling bureaucrats and poachers alike who trap and kill the animals here, part of Nature just trying to endure and survive here in this awesome, awful desert where civilization seems to have deserted our noble task as gardeners and guardians of God's Creation. Yet, this man keeps His Commandments and does his best with nobility and honor, too. Like the husband and wife from Christiansburg, Ohio and like the husband and wife from Buenaventura, Mexico and like the husband and wife from Ballycastle, Ireland this husband and wife from Ghanzi, South Africa were about to give birth, too, to an infant child this Christmas Eve-Morn they would name Uriah, which meant in ancient times, Light of God. Their love was true, as well, and their service and duty that was more than just work. In truth it was their life to keep and watch over those maligned and forgotten creatures here in the Kalahari Desert to keep them free from trap or snare or the gun that sounded far worse than thunder. The battle was daily but he was honored to be such a warrior. ...Far, far to the east and north there is another place seemingly forsaken and forgotten by human civilization, most definitely simple and plain like the other four places: the sort of thoughtlessness and dispassion that breed greed and distrust and hatred, the sort of heartless disregard for the reverence and respect of all humanity that brings war and death like some awful cry known only deep in the dungeons of hell. In the long-reaching and vast steppes and glacier-built tundra of Eastern Siberia there is a tiny place called Maklakovo along one of those great railroad lines that span this huge land where roads are as few as any monuments or manifestos of Lenin or Stalin or Putin. Maklakovo sets along a long river that begins in the Baykal Lake, a great lake of fresh, natural, unpolluted water that brings the greatest and noblest birds to migrate here each Spring to nest their young. The river finally struggles its way northward down the great steppes and buttes and high tundra towers near empty of any humanity into the always-cold Kara Sea, where latitude and longitude nearly intersect into one, where time and place seem almost to stand still.
In this tiny town of Maklakovo live, too, a husband and wife expecting an infant to be born, now this Christmas Morn, 25 December 2014, an infant child they will name Sondra, after the mother's great-great grandmother who perished during the Russian Revolution of 1917, a woman as noble and good as St. Joan of Arc, herself, who fought for the lives of the czar and the czarina as one of their loyal knights of the White Cross of shield and sword: the shield overshadowing always the sword. Now, the husband made violins. He made them by hand and he carved them by hand (much like the carpenter in Christiansburg made his furniture). Often, it took a fortnight or two to finish just one violin. But, in Russia and even as far west as Finland, his violins were known as the great Tumlokov violins, and when played by the great violin masters in the grand and ancient halls of European auditoriums, these violins sounded like what Heaven must sound when celebrating the First Nativity, the Bethlehem Nativity of that first holy family: Joseph and Mary and Jesus. This violin-maker and his wife love each other deeply, constantly, reverently. Through all their impoverished life their love has sustained them and they have rejoiced in what they do and how they live and where they live and who they are as essential, truly significant people here on Earth. Like the other four couples here recorded, they are not really famous as fame would be dictated or defined by wealth. What they have, however, is a faith and a love in each other so great, so vast, so deep, so high that their love not only sustains them but also enobles them, elevates them, and, even, exalts them for their conduct, their faith, their willingness and devotion to reach beyond their plight and to find within themselves that grace and peace that is the reason for the sentinels of rock and granite and lime and wood and ice that stand guard in even the most forgotten and simple of places here on earth as the angels from heaven begin to sing that Phillips Brooks' song, O Little Town of Bethlehem, this Christmas Day most holy, most bright, most true. Merry Christmas and Hoo-ah to all our valiant, knightly soldiers!
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Turk
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Re: Five Gifts at Christmas

Postby Dirt » Tue Dec 23, 2014 3:32 pm

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Merry Christmas to everyone! May it be blessed, peaceful, and filled with loving joy!
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