Thursday, December 18, 2008

Poor Christmas: Great expectations.



Foxes and rabbits have holes, birds have nests... Being content with a sufficiency.

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I love to watch the rabbits and mice and voles in my garden. I see their tracks in the snow and I'm consoled to think some of them live in the foundation of my garage, although it is not heated in there, it may be a bit warmer than the outdoors. I often wonder how the little critters endure the snow and below zero temperatures, although an abundance of snow, as well as their winter coats, and fur-woven-with-twigs-and-mulch nests would provide much needed warmth.

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I began to think how in our times, we Americans have the luxury of unprecedented comfort. We have homes that have no comparison with any other period of domesticity in history, what with our heating and air-conditioning, air purifiers and filters, lighting, refrigerators along with all sorts of appliances, and so on. Our cars are heated, and if one can afford it, even the seats are heated, and the kids can watch TV in the back seat. We all know this, and take it for granted, often complaining when we are deprived of something or other, as when the power goes out. God forbid one's connection to the Internet is interrupted.

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Yet like the rabbits, human beings once lived in badly heated homes without any modern conveniences at all. Even royalty had a tough time of it in those huge stone castles. I shiver just thinking about it. For thousands and thousands of years man led a rather deprived existence - compared to our modern standards - and survived quite well. They wanted for much less than we do, simply because they never had a great deal to begin with. Only the very few lived in any sort of luxury - although it never equalled what we take for granted today.

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It is very difficult for those who have just lost their jobs, or their home, or their life savings to understand that it is not the end of the world, that people need much less to get by than they ever imagined.

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The rabbits remind me of such things. Indeed, I sometimes recall how, while on my pilgrimage to Compostella, I looked for lodging in a heavy rainstorm. I had hardly any money at all and it was late at night. I prayed St. Joseph to find me a dry place to sleep, reminding him how he found a place for the Virgin in Bethlehem. As I turned the corner in the little village I was passing through near the Spanish frontier, I saw a vegetable cart, with a canvas tarp. I quickly crawled in and slept the night, grateful St. Joseph provided me with the shelter. The next morning I knew better than to complain that my night had been quite uncomfortable with damp and cold, considering how the Saint provided similar conditions for Our Lady. In both situations, the accommodations were quite adequate, albeit not the least luxurious. The next night I found lodging in a garden shed filled with hay.
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Very often, we require a lot fewer things than we imagine - while in reality, we are 'entitled' to even less.

5 comments:

  1. Beautifully meditative post. A great reminder of how God provides the basics but we are so spoiled that when the "extras" are gone we are mad at God.

    I'm waiting for your annual post with the story you tell your "kids" about how the animals don't each other at the Nativity. I think you know the one. If not, you'll tell me!

    I'm loving my at-work creche card. It's on my desk.

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  2. I meant "eat" each other!

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  3. Good reminder.

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  4. I just come along to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    Your blog looks great!

    With warm greetings from the Netherlands ;)

    Marleen

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