In the middle of the Holiday Hustle recently, I was stopped in my tracks.
Racing around, preparing food for a party, I had just cut into a beautiful red pepper when I saw inside it another much smaller green pepper. It quite literally took my breath away. I carefully sliced the red pepper in half, fully exposing the tiny miniature version.
I asked a couple of gardening types about my find and they were less shocked than I, but, they admitted they had never seen anything like it themselves. This week many of us are rushing towards the holiday. And whether or not you just finished the last candle on your menorah, or you still have gift buying/wrapping cookie baking/eating to do. Chances are you have not yet taken a breath. Until last Friday, when like many of us, you had the holiday rug pulled out from under you.
Now you are thinking about not-so-festive topics. Things like gun violence, and mental health services, and school safety. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. So, questions are asked, life and meaning pondered. And the questions asked are not easy to answer or even to hear. "Why would someone commit such a terrible act?" "Could this have been prevented?" "Will I be safe in school?" Tears are shed. Hearts are broken. Closets where gifts were hidden will now be only horrible reminders of what has been lost.
And for those of us, which in this case is most of us, who live geographically at least, far away from the epi-center of the tragedy, life will continue. And we will begin and end our days as we did the day before the shooting. So another question is posed. "Is that how you want to go on? Do you chose to live,and think, believe, and act as if it never happened?" This is your reality. And,oh yes, if you chose to not acknowledge the choices you have, that itself is your decision.
Last week, before the shooting some women I know got together at the last minute to honor the volunteer work of another woman. A friend and neighbor who for many years has volunteered for the meal program at St. Ben's. To salute her they didn't take her to dinner, or buy her a drink and offer a toast. Instead they got together and made over 300 scarves for her to give out when she works at St. Ben's tonight.
We all have choices in how we celebrate the holidays. We all have choices in how we treat each other. We all have choices in how we live our lives, and teach our children and console, support and help each other.
I made a discovery as I cut into a beautiful red pepper the other night, a hidden treasure, a small Christmas gift, if you will. It reminded me of a verse I once committed to memory long ago. I read it in a hardware store where I had gone on an errand with my father one spring day. It was posted over the display of seeds for sale. "Here is one of God's miracles soon to unfold, For ten cents an ounce is divinity sold."
A horrible act was perpetrated last week. No one can ignore it. But even still we are surrounded by goodness and small miracles. A volunteer's steadfast devotion, a vegetables secret center. Don't lose sight of these gifts amidst the hustle or the tragedy. I'm just say'n.