Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Christmas Homily for My Friends

It's Christmas. A cool dry wind sweeps the Santa Monica streets, finding its way to sea. As would seem to always happen this time of year, my head and heart are filled with images of people and times past. But mostly I am filled with gratitude: for this extraordinary life that I've so inexplicably received; and for all the beautiful, fascinating people I've been privileged to know (i.e., you).

I begin to dream, to reflect, to revisit. I take stock of my life to this point, and the uncounted paths taken by those I cherish. I imagine what life might yet hold in store for us, and admit I haven't the least notion what that might be. What an extraordinary journey! Every moment brings with it unexpected revelations; every turn unveils abundant possibilities, spreading into countless unknown precincts, each begging exploration.

I wouldn't trade this life for any other.

2014 was, for me, a wondrous year. Catherine and I were married in August. In May our second glorious grandchild, Rose Catherine, was born. I've had the strength and means to continue to practice my art. My world has been filled with joy and wonder. What did I do to deserve these riches?

And yet when I look beyond the boundaries of my own small life, I see a world of sorrow, a world of suffering and grief: Ferguson, ISIS, Ebola, Boko Haram, Arctic warming, cyberwars, civil wars, Malaysia Air 217 and 370, Eric Garner, Hurricane Odile, income inequality, climate change, ad insanitium... just a few of the plenary misfortunes of the world. Even if I could, I need not recount them all for you as it is, no doubt, already a familiar litany.

These thoughts weigh heavily on me this holiday and the part of my heart given to sadness is full. Though many of these calamities seem impossibly distant, it is clear to me that we are all – on some fundamental level yet to be explained – inextricably connected to one another and to all life on this tiny blue planet.

I haven't the vaguest idea how to solve the problems of the world. I'm not sure anyone does. The longer I live, the less I surely know. (Could be senility.) But of this one thing I am certain: the simplest kindnesses, the smallest acts of gratitude and forgiveness, in these there is hope for the world.

And so my friends this Christmas I offer you this holiday wish: May the new year bring you everything you need, and something that you want. And may we all find the time and space to pray for peace, love our precious ones, and be kind to all the rest.

May you all be blessed by the deity of your choice. And know that I truly miss you and hope we will see one another before long.