PRE-NOTE: I encourage you to watch the video at the end of this post.
Thirty-five years ago, sometime in early December of 1977, I did my first homemade Christmas card for friends and family, a very simple card with illustration by my then 13 year old son, Tom, and a hand printed short phrase by Kahlil Gibran: “Then said a rich man, Speak to us of Giving. And He answered. You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
The twelve months preceding that card were memorable, though not necessarily in a positive sense, though there was much positive, too.
Certainly without intending, the hand-made card became a tradition, continuing to this day, the 36th in the series. The first 20 or so were sent exclusively by U.S. mail. This will be the first one which one must have access to the internet to see in complete form.
Each year since 1977 has had one thing in common: something would happen sometime during that year that stuck with me, and the annual card was born, never fancy, always just me. We all have our ‘ways’.
2012 was an event-filled year, but nothing rose to the surface until an idea struck, yesterday, with receipt of an unexpected photo from a friend, David (click to enlarge):
David, the guy in the blue shirt in the front row of the photograph, is a “coffee buddy” most every Friday. A month or so ago I had invited he and another coffee friend, Fred, to join a small discussion group whose members are retired educators, interested in public education.
David came to our gathering on Nov. 16, sat down at the table with the other five of us, and immediately noted Jerry, with an exclamation: “I think I know you!”
Indeed they did know each other, and David found the old photo. Jerry is the guy with the mountain man beard in the photo. They and the others were for a number of years in the 1960s and 1970s members of a twin cities group, primarily teachers, who did some mountaineering each summer at places like Bugaboo, Devils Tower, and on and on.
While I never mountaineered, the photo was nostalgic for me, nonetheless. While disconnected in fact, I was connected in spirit.
Such is how things seem to work in this universe of ours. Random things are not so random at all. I recall the 2011 film, “I Am, the Documentary“, which remains available for viewing. We saw it when it first came out, and highly recommend it. It gives lots of food for thought.
Yesterday went on, and in the afternoon Cathy, my spouse, put up the Christmas tree, with help from one of our daughter-in-laws.
That tree has been Cathy’s tradition for many years.
In the evening, after the project was completed, I went down and saw the tree, and there affixed to one of the branches was the 1977 Christmas card of mine, about the only “ornament” I can say I own.
The 2012 Christmas message was born, from random acts with no relation to each other. Such has happened before, and will again, doubtless.
Happy Holidays at this Christmas season.
The passage of time since that first card reminds me of the second card, in 1978, when I chose this poem by the famous poet, Unknown:
THE LOOM OF TIME
Man’s life is laid in the loom of time
To a pattern he does not see,
While the weavers work and the shuttles fly
Till the dawn of eternity
Some shuttles are filled with silver threads
And some with threads of gold,
While often but the darkest hues
Are all that they may hold.
But the weaver watches with skillful eye
Each shuttle fly to and fro,
And sees the pattern so deftly wrought
As the loom moves sure and slow.
God surely planned the pattern:
Each thread, the dark and fair,
Is chosen by His master skill
And placed in the web with care.
He only knows its beauty
And guides the shuttles which hold
The threads so unattractive,
As well as the threads of gold.
Not till each loom is silent,
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God reveal the pattern
And explain the reason why
The dark threads were as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
For the pattern which he planned.
During the past twelve months I began making a point of taking some photos each month at an 1870-era one-room farm house at a small city park near our home. The ‘album’ now includes perhaps 44 photographs. You can view them here.
A few weeks ago came a remarkably uplifting piece of video, less than ten minutes in length, which I would invite you to enjoy in the spirit of the season. You can access it here. It is exactly as it is. Do check it out. The film is by Louie Schwartzberg. It is narrated, beautifully, by Brother David Steindl-Rast; the beautiful music by Gary Malkin.