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Month: December 2020

New Year Intentions

To see the world more clearly.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions are too harsh, and they lead to frustration and despair and a sense of failure…because, of course, few resolutions make it past the first week or month of the New Year.

I do New Year’s Intentions. Every year I intend to be a better person, eat better, get more exercise, stay in closer touch with my loved ones…and you know, just be kinder and gentler.

There is a lot less pressure with intentions, and you can start over if you fail early in the year. In June, when you take stock of how your year has gone so far, you can still revisit the “intention” to be a better person, but resolutions are gone until the next New Year’s Eve.

This year, I have a couple of more specific intentions, though; intentions that relate to my personal goals. Goals are another way of setting one up for failure, but they aren’t so rigid as resolutions. One of my personal, all-time goals is never to stop learning, never stop searching, so I’m building that into my New Year’s Intentions for 2021.

My main intention for 2021, though, relates to my problems with seeing.  Quickly, I will point out that I’m not talking about physical vision. My eyesight literally (and I can say that because it is true) has never been better since cataract and lens replacement surgery. I no longer rely on glasses to navigate my world as I have since I was nine years old. Oh, I use reading glasses, but that’s pretty normal at my age. The fact is, I see at a distance better than 20/20, and I never, ever thought that would be possible.

So, my eyesight isn’t the problem. It’s more…how can I put this…heart sight or, here’s a good word…insight.

Back when I was doing a lot of newspaper photography, I saw things others did not see. When you’re a photographer, you have to see the whole picture before pressing the button. You don’t want a tree in the background that looks like it’s growing out of your subject’s head. You do want their classic car in the background if that’s all they can talk about as you interview them. You do want to catch the quick look a bystander is giving to a subject with blue hair. You do want the subject’s shadow pointing to the car crash they walked out of unharmed.

Over the years, I’ve lost some of my ability to see. My intention for 2021 is to see the world around me. I don’t want to just look over things; I want to take them in, all the things before me.

This year has been a challenge; a year we have been very focused on keeping ourselves safe and healthy, a year we found we have very little control over that. 2020 has been a year that something outside of us, something outside of our control, something we can’t see or touch, can take our lives or the lives of those around us.

As this year winds to a close, I find that people I have never seen have gone and, in a sense, a way of life we never fully appreciated is gone as well. Some things will never be the same; some families will never again be complete; some things that could have been will never be.

So in 2021, I intend to look and not just look, but see life around me. I want to see each day, not only with my eyes but with my heart and mind.

That’s my New Year’s Intention. Good luck with your New Year’s Resolutions…I think my way is better!

Happy New Year.

The Story of the Manger

First of all, I just want to say that I cannot take credit for the story I am about to tell you. It is not even a story. This is a tradition based on legend…or a legend based on tradition and I think it has no real beginning. It is a story told by many, attributed to none, but it is so close to home there must be some truth.

We all know that early religions used sacrificial animals to offer to God or the gods for the forgiveness of sins. And we all know that this Christmas Day that we Christians everywhere celebrate is about the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to be sacrificed for the sins of all.

There is a lot of symbolism in every religion, but I recently heard of the symbol of the manger, where Jesus was laid after his birth, awaiting the visit of the shepherds and the wise men of the East.

Shepherds were people whose job it was to watch over and care for the sheep of a community. As the keepers of the sheep, it was also their job to choose and protect specific lambs to be used as sacrifices in the temple.

A sacrificial lamb was to have lived to adulthood and have no faults or blemishes. As lambs were born in early winter, it was a sacred duty for the shepherds to choose the finest, strongest lambs to be groomed for the temple ritual of sacrifice. To protect those lambs from birth, they gently carried them to the stables, wrapped them in cloth to keep them warm …and they further protected them by placing them in the stone mangers in the cave that served as a stable, the safest place they knew for a baby meant to become a holy sacrifice.

That’s why the shepherds were called by the angels to be the first to meet the baby Jesus. Of all people, shepherds would understand the significance of a baby announced by angels and lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Not my story, but a good one you have to admit. Something to think about.

Merry Christmas to all.

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