Beliefnet
Everyday Spirituality

Here is a Sicilian Hymn that I don’t hear too often at Christmas time. It’s strikingly lovely and I would like to share the words with you:

O Thou Joyful Day

“O thou joyful day, O thou blessed day, Gladsome, peaceful Christmastide. Earth’s hopes awaken, Christ life hath taken, Praise Him, O praise Him on every side.

O thou joyful day, O thou blessed day, Gladsome, peaceful Christmastide. Christ’s light is beaming, Our souls redeeming, Praise Him, O praise Him on every side.

O thou joyful day, O thou blessed day, Gladsome, peaceful Christmastide. King of all glory, We bow before Thee, Praise Him, O praise Him on every side.”

 

 

As a resident of New York, I’ve heard a lot of ruckus about the New York Safety Act. Governor Cuomo passed the NY SAFE Act in the middle of the night at the beginning of year 2013. The Act imposed greater restrictions on gun owners, gun licensing, and gun sales.

Needless to say, gun owners were a bit put out. One of the arguments is that the law breaks our constitutional right to the 2nd amendment to “bear arms.”

Guns are owned for multiple reasons, mainly safety, hunting, and law enforcement.

In the news today, I read about a hunter who accidently, yet fatally, shot another hunter. Yikes. No one wants to make that mistake. This is reason for reflection.

I look at our modern world and it just doesn’t seem as though guns have the same place as they did two hundred years ago. We buy our meat in the grocery store. We aren’t surrounded by wild animals that need to be shot. The population of people exceeds animals.  The United States doesn’t have the open spaces for bullets to go zinging around. And, bullets go far these days.

In the 18th century a bullet could travel 400 yards, fairly accurately. In the 19th century this bumped up to 1400 yards. Today, a bullet can travel miles.

I still believe in the right to bear arms, however maybe this is taking on new form in this technological era. I have a right to protect myself from negative thinking. I have a right to shoot down those thoughts that tempt me to get angry or sad. I smile though, because the only artillery that will work accurately is love, principle, honesty, and joy.

With the accidental shooting incident, so close to home, I am reminded of modesty. I don’t need to shoot at everything that moves.

I just made some oatmeal/cranberry/chocolate chip cookies. Spectacular.

The recipe wasn’t spectacular.

My mixing and baking technique wasn’t spectacular.

It’s what I did with those cookies that proved spectacular.

I put some in a plastic bag and personally delivered them to co-workers.

The cookies were part of an experiment I conducted.

I was testing the effect of kindness on my co-workers, who are under pressure every now and then.

Thing is, I don’t go to the office often because I work from home. So, my experiment required me to find time in the day—a time when I knew my co-workers wouldn’t be bombarded with deadlines—and I delivered the oatmeal/cranberry/chocolate chip cookies to the office.

We chit-chatted for a few minutes. I thanked them for specific tasks they’d performed in the last few weeks.

Every time I run this experiment of taking time away from myself and acknowledging the good accomplishments of others, the evidence piles higher and higher. My job runs smoother. Communication is clearer. And, life feels hopeful.

I’ve run this experiment without cookies and it works just as well.

Once, a co-worker made a big mistake that affected me unhelpfully. When I walked into the office, I could see tangible relief come over her face. She realized I wasn’t angry. We were able to discuss the mistake with the desire to make sure it didn’t happen again.

I have to admit, I’ve conducted this experiment of taking the time to thank others, and it has backfired. But, I’ll keep experimenting, this way I won’t start assuming I know exactly how things will turn out. I won’t write someone off. Experimenting with kindness hasn’t truly failed me yet.

With Thanksgiving peeking around the corner, I happen to associate moral courage with the holiday. It all started when I was talking with Marie, who was asked to be a Bride’s maid in her friend’s wedding.

Marie said yes. Marie figured it would be a modest wedding. The bride and groom, both have children from previous marriages. The date is set for next September, giving the couple time to test if this relationship can work.

But then, the couple’s plans climbed sharply until they gouged simplicity. The wedding was moved to an expensive hotel. Hundreds are planned to be invited to a fancy dinner. Expectations for dress wear became unreasonable for Marie.

Marie decided to speak personally with the bride and bow out of the bride’s maid duty.

The news of course was taken with sadness.

It takes courage to act on that which might not go over real well or fit the norm. It also takes kindness. Marie was kind when she bowed out of the wedding.

Marie was morally courageous. She didn’t try to convince herself the more money spent on this wedding the better the chances the marriage will survive.

In thinking about Thanksgiving, I can act on this moral courage also. I can bow out of overeating. I can bow out of stress. I can bow out of making an impression with a turkey.

I can enjoy Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving.