Once again, the Holiday Season is upon us. More and more this beautiful time of the year celebrates a variety of customs, traditions, and feasts from a diversity of peoples, cultures, and traditions.
When I was a young boy Hanukkah Candles, Menorahs, and Christmas Trees were often displayed together in the neighborhood. In our present day, we rejoice in an endless array of rituals and celebrations from the birth of a Child of great expectation to the Light returning to the deep dark nights of Winter.
Kwanza, Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, and sometimes even Ramadan, all dance together as images of light, hope, and peace swirl with delight in our minds, hearts, and souls.
It is also a time when our hearts swell with that justice and mercy we need to practice throughout the year if the hungry would be fed and the stranger welcomed.
I remember one bitter cold Christmas Eve when the heat stopped working. My Grandma put her arms around me and said ever so quietly, “Feel the warmth in the hearth of your heart.” Her gentle words sounded poetic, mysterious, and reassuring. I needed to know what a “hearth” was. I find the word to be beautiful. The idea there is a hearth in my heart was something I always wanted to remember. To this day, I love the warmth that comes from a fireplace or hearth. I am reminded of the warmth inside when it is cold outside. I am reminded of the warmth we all carry in our hearts.
Over the years I discovered my heart could be a place where other people could come whenever they felt cold, lonely, rejected, or failed. It pains me that all too often I have forgotten the warmth within as others suffered in the cold of weather or loneliness.
Sometimes when I am cold and lonely, I forget the hearth in my heart. So, now I am grateful for all those Feasts and Celebrations that mark the Holiday Season. Every song, all the food, the peaceful rituals, all remind us of the hearths in our hearts.
Thank you for all the warmth and love that radiates from the hearths of your hearts. In the name of the Child whose heart was on fire with love, thank you for being the warmth in the oftentimes coldness of the World. Thank you for striving to be peaceful, compassionate, and merciful in a World longing for the warmth of your heart. Light candles, sing songs, eat gratefully, share graciously, dance for joy with the stranger as you radiate the warmth of your heart to all.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.