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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ever-Green, by Steven Collier

In times long past, the evergreen was a symbol of eternity. It was a tree that did not fade, and fall barren in the harsher months, sustaining its jade hue all year long. In the eyes of our forebearers, it was a life that did not die, but existed in a state of perpetual youth. Perfection.

Today, few still carry such sentiments. The evergreen is a tree like any other. It’s another in the legion of holiday symbols, interchangeable with Santa, reindeer, and snowmen.

And so like so many other emblems of the old world, tossed into the coagulating confines of America’s melting pot, the evergreen’s meaning remains lost in the conceptual limbo somewhere between the superfluous and the divine.

For better or worse, this leaves its definition in the hands of the individual. Myself included.

The more’s the pity for the evergreen.

So, what does the evergreen represent to me? That is a convoluted answer, like all of my answers.

I think my view of the word is deeply colored by the term “green,” which has long been synonymous with the amateur, the rookie, the beginner. To be evergreen would therefore mean to forever be an apprentice. Never master. That in and of itself would imply a sort of permanency, a different sort of eternal state. However, I’ve cut down Christmas trees in the past. I’ve crawled across the needled ground that surrounds their trunks, a porcupine patch of earth.

I know that the evergreen sheds its “leaves” the same as any other tree. It too goes through seasons. It too ages. It too grows. It’s not immortal. It’s just a lot more modest.

To me, the evergreen is symbolic of the ideal mindset; Ever Green.

Be it a sapling or a thirty foot giant, the evergreen spends its entire life presenting itself the same way: as a perpetual student, never a master. Equally accessible, adaptable regardless of season, placement, or age.

The evergreen represents neither the eternal nor the perfect. It represents honesty, openness, and ultimately acceptance. And regardless of denomination or creed, I think that’s as good a symbol of the holidays as anything.

 

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A TIME OF JOY, by William Zalot

By William Zalot

Many of us feel overwhelmed during this time of year. We search for the perfect gifts, the perfect cards, or try to prepare the perfect meals. In this time of busyness we often forget to reflect or pray on what God wants of us to do.

This time of anticipation can be a time of much stress. For some of us, the sense of loss can be magnified. A remedy for these feelings may be to reach to those in need. Perhaps visit those in an orphanage or nursing homes. In giving others time, we can lift our own case of depression or the blues.

In my years of teaching religious education, I saw a few students’ broken hearts. A fourth or fifth grader may have gotten a brand new bike or watch from a Dad or Mom who couldn’t find the time to watch their daughter play Mary or Joseph in the Christmas play. The young girl or boy could certainly identify with the sense of not feeling welcomed as Mary and Joseph must have felt when “there was no room at the inn.” Still, the girl or boy would put on a great performance.

A real trooper, I sensed, they had been scarred like this before. Would thirty minutes be too much to ask? After all, one of their parents was going to be there to pick them up in an hour. But who would pick up the pieces? Can a shiny new gift fill the void the child really needed; a parent’s presence? Later in life, that adolescent or adult-child may fill that void with drugs or alcohol.

Too often we fill our own sense of guilt with giving those we love material things, whether this is to a son, a daughter, niece, a nephew or a spouse. This also holds true to any relationship. For instance, a date night once or twice a month can keep a twenty-five or fifty year marriage fresh and rekindle the romance that brought a couple together so long ago.

Lifetime hurts run deep. Remember to give to those you care about as well as the disenfranchised, a most precious gift; your time. In doing so, this holiday season, will be a real time of joy!

Merry Christmas and joy in the coming year!