I’m sure you have noticed it.
As we draw nearer to the end of a calendar year, almost every news organization in the country takes time to generate a Top Ten list of people, stories and events that have occurred in the previous months of that year. I have always been intrigued by this exercise and so, sitting here in the glow of my Christmas tree, I share with you the Top Ten spiritual stories that made an impact on me in the past year.
- The beautiful photo books that Chris Hatfield, Commander of the International Space Station, has published, showcasing the awesome wonder of our planet earth and of the universe surrounding it. Breathtaking!
- Pope Frances and his remarkable ability to galvanize the Roman Catholic Church into new channels of thought with regard to the central message of Christianity; namely, to care for the poor and marginalized in the world and not be so concerned with outdated religious dogma. The Roman Catholic Church has a long way to go with regard to the ordination of women and the place of divorced and gay people in the church, but he is making a courageous start. Bravo!
- The savagery of religious fanaticism that disregards human life and destroys goodness in the name of religion. The slaughter of 141 people in Pakistan, mostly children, by the fanatical Taliban, merely because they are seeking an education, is the most recent, unholy reminder that religious fundamentalism is one of the most destructive forces in our world today. Tragic!
- The fervent defense of Christianity at Christmas by a vast legion of people who have no affiliation with religion at any other time of year. Ironic!
- Bill 10, the most recent effort on the part of the Government of Alberta to entrench discrimination in the public sphere. Gay teens across the province will be less able to find places of safety and support if this ill conceived bill passes into law. When will we, in Alberta, move out of the middle ages and find our way into the 21st Century? Discouraging!
- The courage of the people who came to the aid of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo when he was shot at the War Memorial in Ottawa. These people, bless them, ran toward danger, rather than away from it, to come to the aid of a fellow human being who died in their arms, all the while reassuring him that he was loved. Inspiring!
- The beauty and strength of the human body so wondrously crafted and made by God to reach ever greater heights of athletic excellence. The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia were the most recent example, but there are many more such examples all year long. Magnificent!
- Naomi Klein and her life long crusade to remind us of the catastrophic consequences of climate change. When she speaks of this, she names it as a deeply spiritual quest that engulfs all of humanity. Courageous!
- The generosity of Calgarians at Christmas time is a wondrous thing to behold. An avalanche of toys, winter coats, food and cash is donated. In fact, charitable organizations receive the bulk of their donations in the month of December. But we know that charity is not enough or even the best answer. I applaud all who are working equally hard for social justice and empowerment so that charities are ultimately put out of business. Visionary!
- The wonder of the Christmas story never grows old for me. A yearly reminder that out of even the most dire of circumstances, a child is born, life is renewed and we can begin again. Joyful!
Christmas and New Year Blessings, Linda