I have pneumonia in my right lung, sinus and throat infection. This will be my fourth documented bout with pneumonia, one of which went into both lungs. My wife, Karen, has an upper respiratory bug and sinus infection. We are both on powerful antibiotics. My breathing is greatly affected. As we share this special Christmas message with you, we lift you all up in prayer. We pray for those especially who have lost loved ones this time or any time of the year, that you would be surrounded with people who love you and allow you to be real with how you are truly feeling. No one should be alone on Christmas. Invite that person who will be alone for Christmas to your time of celebration. As Charles Dickens says through the mean, bitter, miserly, penny-pinching Ebeneezer Scrooge who when shown the effects of his cruelty became loving, kind and giving in A Christmas Carol may this be the call to all of us, “I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”
I will be taking some time off to recover.
I see all of you as my large cyber space family spread all over the world. Whether you are in Canada, the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, South Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, Jamaica, Greenland, Iceland or in far off Antarctica we have rejoiced together; we have lifted up one another in prayer as you share your struggles and challenges with me. In that journey we have also grown together in the sharing of our thoughts and ideas of how we can transform peoples’ lives through our willingness to listen and show those acts of kindness that show we are a caring people.
You teach me than far more than I could ever teach you by how you inspire me through your lives reaching out to those who need your time, practical and giving love. By doing this you show an example of what we continually need to be doing individually, in the Church, community, society and in the government. I have grown as a man and as writer because of the thoughts on my pieces you have shared with me.
We will keep you all in our prayers and thoughts.
Enjoy this gift from our hearts to yours of God’s Comfort in a Child.
I enter the Englehart Medical Centre in northern Ontario taking a number along with everyone else for registering to be seen by my doctor. As I wait a child is peeking at me in the medical office in front of the glass in the door. She makes silly faces at me. I feel so comforted and laugh as I reflect on another time waiting for my appointment at an opthamologist’s office. I play a game with her as I peek at her behind a magazine lifting it up and down. She says as she squeals with laughter to her mother, “Mommy, he’s looking at me!” The mother smiles. She gives me the gift of her smile. I will soon receive difficult news that without surgery on my eyes for a visual astigmatism I will eventually go blind as my eye muscles keep pulling away as my eyes turn more. In my faith I believe God brings His comfort through the joy of a child.
I share with you this recent experience.Recently, I go my doctor for my scheduled visit with him. I tell him of my symptoms of a really awful bug I have been fighting. He listens to my breathing. He says fighting back his own concern as much as possible, “Kevin, you have pneumonia in your right lung. Your throat is really red. Your throat infection became a sinus infection, which has become streptococcal pneumonia.”
Streptococcal pneumonia – that’s a diagnosis no one would want to be given. It means I have a tough road ahead to heal from it. We value your prayers.
Based on my past history of pneumonia I thought I did have it. I remained open to the possibility it was another chest infection, which can be serious in itself for those with a compromised immune system like me.
As I reflect on those two times I have been given the gift of a child’s comforting playfulness, I think of another gift far more precious, which also brings me a peace that I find at a loss to fully explain. It is a deep assurance that fills my heart that no matter what happens God, who holds my life and yours in His hands is with me. This is a beautiful peace that floods my soul. It would be like trying to describe to you what gives Josh Groban that resonating tenor voice that reaches my soul, what gives Susan Boyle the ability to sing with such depth and passion or to say what makes a rose such a romantic gift or to say why singing In the Garden, our wedding song we sang together is filled with such uplifting memories of abounding joy. Words fail me. I think that is a good thing because how can any of us truly describe what God does for us, how He hears our tears and our fears, how He knows us so well. Oh, my dearly beloved friends, let us always be in awe of the wonder and majesty of God!
I share this parting thought until God calls me to share with you again. Each of those times I see the exuberant joy of those children I think of the gift of Christ to a hurting world filled with greed , government and religious corruption, Injustice, inequality, idolatry, envy, fear, anger, hopelessness and a crushing poverty of mind, body and spirit. God gives a special gift, His only begotten Son as we are told in the King James Version of John 3:16, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. It is a gift to those who would come to belief in their heart that their life from now into eternity is in God’s hands.
So many of us know John 3:16 by heart. It is one of the first verses we were taught in Sunday School. A dear brother in Christ shared with me that this verse has been reduced to being a story for children. That is so sad. Many say is that this is an allegorical story pulled out at Christmas for all those Jesus freaks or those Christians who have a surface theology that shows they are either misinformed or stupid. Pray for them. The comment often comes from the pain of other Christians who have hurt them deeply. This only shows that we as Christians are all people in process with yet much to learn.
Christ is my saviour from all my sin. He is the Light in my darkness. He is my hope in all of my struggles. He is a gift of love, grace and beauty available to all of us. Like that soul-uplifting gift of those children, Christ, is the gift ready and waiting for us to unwrap.
The questions are these. Will we demand that the greatest gift of God’s love be returned to sender or like the best gifts we have ever received will we accept it, cherish it, value it deep in our hearts not just at Christmas but every day we live. Will we like Ebeneezer Scrooge who saw the truth of the message of Christmas honour it and keep it alive in our hearts?
I pray you will all enjoy time with family, friends and colleagues as you reflect on these questions.
Listen to each other. Be loving, patient and kind with each other. Be a comforting gift of love to all those who need it so much in their lives not just at Christmas but every day. Have a lot of fun with one another.
To Marmar Dagu-ob, who invited me over a year ago to be author on Mind’s Seat, which is an inspirational blog that has followers all around the world, I thank God for bringing you into my life. I have become a better man and inspirational writer because of your wisdom and brotherly love. Marmar, Karen’s and my Christmas gift of The Prayer is for all the Filipino people and you.
Maligaayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Filipino)
We pray for you all to have a joyful Christmas and a blessed New Year!
Kevin and Karen