Those times have passed by me now, and a new found and happier part of life opens up before me. Yet, I believe in God , and the message of suffering is thankfully not taught within a vacuum. If we are good students of life, suffering will not only teach us a good deal about mercy, but it will also afford us a heart full of compassion.
There are so many faces and conversations dancing within my head as I write. People I know are either currently suffering, or have just said goodbye to a year that was ripe with them. Parents lost, family members gone, cancers diagnosed, illnesses undetected, depression set in, marriages troubled, children in strife, and a general atmosphere of unrest and discord in the world around us. It can feel overwhelming.
I read these stanzas today. This poem and song really touch me.
They were written Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, you know, the fellow with that great long beard. The beard is actually a remnant of the very tragedy that struck him. His wife clipping the hair of their child sealed the curls in candle wax. Some of the wax caught on her dress and set it up in flames, she ran to Henry in his study and he tried to put it out with his own body. He failed, and she died. His attempt to rescue her burning him so severely he could not attend her funeral a few days later, and could never again shave for the rest of his life. Almost one year later, his son a lieutenant in the army, was killed by a bullet on the Potomac river. He wrote:
"How inexpressibly sad are all holidays."
"A merry Christmas' say the children, but that is no more for me."
"I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace."
And then, miraculously, a few years later God did give him peace. The poem takes us through his despair:
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;"For hate is strong,And mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men.
To his eventual healing and his realization that:
Then pealed the bells more deep
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Where ever you may stand, in this Christmas season, on the edge of this new year- May you know that God is with you and feel his comfort. If that day is not today, I wish you the strength to continue on until He fills your heart with that echoing cry of Peace on earth, goodwill to men.
Happy New year.