NationalJournal.com - A Christmas Wish - Thursday, December 16, 2010
A column on the inherent complexity of life, but short and worth a read. I do believe that along with not being able to sit in a quiet room alone with our thoughts (Pascal), modern man is worsened by our reduced time at graveside. Having just read a biography of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the vast set of ailments that resulted in death at any age, and the rather common death of young children allowed people in the vast history of mankind to much better realize the fragility of their lives while yet alive. Eternity is so very much longer than the human span.
Dowd's (no relative of Maureen) younger sister, apparently a drug abuser, died of an overdose, and Dowd is struck by the poignancy of "a Christmas list in her pocket". We all have some form of such lists, and the thought of exiting with them unfinished from whatever cause is indeed poignant. Dowd has been something of a policial operative for both sides, and laments the quick and easy labels that we apply to each other and of course to politicians -- generally lamenting those of "our side", but feeling them nearly 100% justified as applied to the other. Apparently, thoughts of the ultimate turn his mind to politics -- especially in this season, I'm uncertain that reaches the meaning he is grasping after.
Death makes us look in the souls mirror and realize that we are all too human -- not nearly as super intelligent, wonderful in character, lovable, wise, and "godlike" as we might believe. Some more quite thought might bring realization that ALL the lists -- of politics past and future, goals, desires, hopes, expectations and "truths"(firmly identified by man) look awfully insignificant from graveside, staring eternity in the face. We, and all we love, live but one heartbeat away from being no more.
Perhaps it would be more worthy to look to the manger, then to the cross and realize that SOME "sound bites" and "labels" are very short and simple, yet crucial. Christian -- knowing personally the gift of the manger and the cross, and the humility to accept his grace and however weakly, to follow him. The truth of us all having a Christmas list in our pocket, nor any other truth, save the real meaning of Christmas, will make this, and most critically, the next world better.