Let This Season Be a Reminder to Keep Your Heart Open

Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - 3:00 pm

Let This Season Be a Reminder to Keep Your Heart Open

As I celebrate Christmas with my family, I think about the fact that the early Quakers — my 17th-century spiritual ancestors — refused to set aside December 25 as a special day.

They feared that doing so would lead them to forget that every day is holy — that peace and justice are moral imperatives all year long — that hope is always ready to be born into our hearts — that we are never free to ignore the needs of the least among us.

I celebrate Christmas with joy — but those early Quakers had a point. For example, in this affluent nation, 20 percent of our kids live at risk of hunger. That’s 16 million youngsters under the age of 18, an intolerable fact.

Because of the good will that abounds among us on December 25, some of those kids will get a good meal on Christmas Day. But on the day after that, and the day after that, and all the days after that, hunger returns…

Memo to self: Celebrate Christmas with a full heart on December 25. But understand that you’re celebrating an endless calling, and keep your heart open to the world’s needs 365 days a year.

Whatever holiday you celebrate during the month of December — and there are many — the blessings of this season to you and yours!

P.S. If childhood hunger is one of our national tragedies that concerns you, I’m sure you have ways of trying to help out. For whatever it’s worth, one organization I support is run by folks I know and trust who do great work: No Kid Hungry (Share Our Strength).


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is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Wednesday.

He is a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, and Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. His book On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old will be published in June.

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  • Amor Fati

    Thank you for this timely reminder that the needs of so many people are present all year long, and to keep our hearts open all through the year and practice hospitality, mercy and benevolence wherever we can.
    A very blessed Christmas to you also and a very blessed Holiday Season to all our brothers and sisters of other faiths. May we remember that every day is holy and sacred.