This is Sugar-the-dog. She received a toy from my family that had not been wrapped. Under the tree, she spied it and with great and determined stealth, she retrieved it. Early. She seems not to mind much about the decorum of waiting until Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day. She simply took it and began to play with it, not minding too much about naughty or nice prescriptions.
Someone asked me once recently about my definition of “hell.” My response startled her. “Hell is an eternity of getting what one thought one wanted.”
I used to want things. I made Christmas lists and I usually received the things on them because I am a white male from a 1,000-year-old family and so, won the gene-pool lottery of the century. It’s the way the world works.
But this Christmas, I want different things than I did as a child or even as a young person. I want to use less energy and so, keep only one light on at a time. I want to help in the pandemic, and so I write about being a part of the problem or the solution. I want resources to be diverted from The Church to The Financially Poor, so I have begun to divert church funding to funding basic human needs. I want Sugar-the-dog to be happy and so let her have her gifts whenever she wants. I want peace on earth, so I stop worrying about what I can’t change and focus hard on what I can change. I want oceans to be clean, so I don’t buy things in plastics, preferring bulk purchases that I then place in clay crocks.
In short, I want to reduce the hell for others by my actions and way of life and so, try hard (often failing) to ask myself if, what I THOUGHT I wanted, is what I really want for the world, rather than just for me.
One may re-think what one thought one wanted. One may even reduce the hells of life on this earth experienced by sentient beings…all sentient beings. It is time. It always has been. Keep and enjoy your gifts. But then, give everything away. Everything possible. Enjoy your Christmas tree, but then replant it in your garden so that it makes oxygen and conserves water in soils.
Live in a way the “Jesus” of the story would actually recognize, sitting there in his sandals, his one smock, his walking stick, and his homelessness. Boycott church. Spend the money on something Jesus would actually recognize as “good.” Laughter with a friend perhaps. A bird for example. Or a lily in a field. Let the Royal Family pay for bishops. Let the rest of us pay for food for those who hunger, and heat for those who are cold. Not a popular message in this Walmart World. But one of value in the fight against hells. Other people’s hells. Elephant hells. Iceberg hells. Emergency room hells.