There’s a bad taste in my mouth. It has been there for the past few days. I can only blame it on the disturbing news of recent days. A peppermint candy cane would be great right about now. But I doubt that it would help.
Death of the Innocents
The merciless slaughter of children by Taliban gunmen who attacked a Pakistan school challenges even our wildest thoughts about violence and evil. A 16-year-old boy, who was in a career guidance session in the auditorium, was shot in both legs. He hid under a desk and pretended to be dead. He said: “I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students. I will never forget the black boots approaching me. I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.”
At last count, the senseless carnage claimed 141 lives. Most of the victims were children.
How does one console the parents? Who can even try to fathom the grief that engulfs them, their desperate pain?
Australians are still in shock over the siege inside a Sydney café where a deranged man brandishing a shotgun held 17 people hostage for over 16 hours. At the end of the drama, there were three dead: a mother of three and member of the New South Wales Bar Association, the café manager who tried to wrestle the gun from the hostage taker, and the gunman himself, described by media as a “self-styled Muslim cleric with a sordid criminal history.” Why was he free to roam? Good question.
Since the tragic results were made known, there has been a long line of mourners who stand quietly, some in tears, outside the café to say a prayer and stand in solidarity with the victims and their families. My nieces said the sidewalk looks like “a sea of flowers.”
It is interesting that the hashtag “I’ll ride with you” for people dressed in Muslim clothes has been used on Twitter more than 90,000 times since the crisis ended. This is a hand of friendship offered by Australians during the worst of circumstances. Good on you mates.
Here at home the headlines are embarrassing. Can anyone explain the ritzy amenities found in New Bilibid Prison? Drug lords have been “lording” it over prison guards and inmates. How long has this been going on?
I had heard there is a serious pecking order in our jails, some kind of tacit consensual bullying. But this is ridiculous.
Authorities also found millions in cash, drugs and even a life-sized sex toy. It must look like a place for fun and frolic; certainly not a prison. They have PlayStations, wide-screen TV, state-of-the-art sound-and-recording equipment. Would you believe they hold concerts? Incredible!
Unacceptable is too mild a word! How can anyone look the other way?
Someone please open a window. I need a breath of fresh air!
The spirit is alive
In the face of all the corruption and wickedness that surrounds us, how can we keep alive the spirit of Christmas?
We must think quiet thoughts and wish gentle wishes. We must look up to Heaven, and find the center of our only hope for joy and fix our gaze upon the light that brings us peace.
Last week I watched “One Way,” this year’s Christmas show of The Bridge School. Out of the mouths of babes came the truth, acted out in song and dance.
I had two great-grandchildren on stage this year. Lucas (2) was the cutest little snowflake. He kept his mark the whole time and knew all the songs. Franco is almost 11 and, as Angel Gabriel, had some of the most important lines in the play. He never fumbled, never missed a cue. OK, call me a stage “super lola.” But this boy oozes theater. Just saying.
The story unfolds as a computer game where the players are Herod, the Wise Men and the Shepherds. They are given clues on how to win and are told to follow the star. Like all of us, they each think that their own strategy is better. They get lost. Herod meets an untimely end—game over for him. The others realize the error of their ways, retrace their steps and finally find the stable and baby Jesus.
The message is clear. It asks: “Who is your treasure? What star do you follow?”
Do you have holiday fatigue?
Our minds overflow with the clutter of Christmas. It started with the tree, the gifts and finally, media noche.
Has the Christmas frenzy made us thoughtless and selfish? In the middle of our feverish preparations, have we bothered to think about families who have nothing at all?
If ever there was a time to love your neighbor, Christmas is it. If there was ever an occasion to give until it hurts, this is the perfect time.
Is it possible that we may have the wrong spirit for this night of wonder, night of joy? Check your heart.
Let me share this verse from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss.
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”