nancy williams

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Archive for December, 2008

Take a Cup O’ Kindness – For Auld Lang Syne

Lingering. That word has been meandering around in my thoughts lately, thanks to the writings of a friend. This time between Christmas and New Year’s seems like the perfect time to do a little of that. To let our thoughts and memories of the holiday we’ve just shared together and about the year that is coming to a close just linger a bit. Remain. Endure. Persist for a time before fading away. ‘Seems like a good time now to do so. Relatives have traveled back to their homes. We returned all that needs returning, took advantage of those after-Christmas sales and finished up the leftovers.

Now we’re trading the melody of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” for the New Year’s Eve favorite: “Auld Lang Syne.” Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians first played this familiar tune on a New Year’s Eve radio broadcast in 1929; and the song has since become a tradition. Scottish poet Robert Burns adapted the phrase “auld lang syne,” which can be translated as “old long ago,” in the late 18th century from traditional Scottish songs. For decades, people have agreed it makes a festive way to close the ‘old long ago’ of days past and usher in the hopes and dreams of a new year.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of Auld Lang Syne? … So here’s a hand, my trusty friend, and give a hand o’ thine; we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet for Auld Lang Syne.”

Life has slowed down a little this week, offering time for reflection. What memories do we want to tuck away, with kindness, in the closet of our hearts? To take their place among the treasures of ‘long ago,’ ready to be opened and enjoyed in days ahead.

As I prepare to pack away my holiday decorations, I’m reminded of the importance of passing along those items to my children as they build their own treasure chest of keepsakes. I want to share with them, not just the ornaments from the tree, but also reminders of the laughter, joy, sorrow, hope, and love that has woven our hearts together. The days seem to pass by so quickly and our focus, all too often, is on looking around the corner to see what lies ahead. How important it is for us to pause with family and friends – to linger a bit – as we reflect, with kindness, on what life has brought our way. Lest we forget those days of ‘auld lang syne.’

The past year was filled with some varied experiences. Victories to savor. Losses to grieve. A hurricane to survive. Opportunities to seize. Challenges to master. Obstacles to overcome. Joys to celebrate. Pain to endure. As I reflect back, I can see beyond the events to the life lessons God has taught me through them. Some experiences have been cause for celebration. Others, I’m grateful to have survived. Yet through them all, I have found truths I want to carry forward and build on in the days to come. Nothing to be wasted but rather wisdom and hope to be invested in the future.

Right now – the quiet of this winter day while curled up in my favorite chair with a steeping cup of tea – I want to savor the spirit of the season that has brought warmth to my home and my heart. My New Year’s wish for you? That you, too, will find a favorite place to settle down, let your thoughts linger a bit, and find warmth for your soul. Sip a ‘cup o’ kindness’ as you reflect back on the days of ‘auld lang syne.’ Tuck away what is to be treasured, restore what has been broken, share what can be passed along, and look for the lessons God has for you as you reflect on His unfailing love.

May the music of hope fill your heart as you ring out the old year and ring in the new; and, “may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).

Happy New Year!

The Stars Are Brightly Shining

December: how I love this time of year – the sights and sounds, the aroma and spirit of the season filling our hearts, our homes and our neighborhoods. Ever since I can remember, my heart has stirred with the magic of twinkling lights; so I look for opportunities to meander through the community and enjoy the creative light displays offered by neighbors. The strands of tiny white sparkles adorning the Christmas tree, lighted globes lining my walkway, dancing lights of flickering candles scattered throughout the house and the warm glow from the fireplace all pierce though the darkness and ignite a spark within. No matter what may be stirring around me, those lights bring a sense of calm and a spirit of peace.

Beyond the lights outlining our homes, tonight’s winter sky above is clear and stars are scattered, like confetti, across the heavens. Twinkling lights, set in place by our Creator. They, too, pierce through the darkness of night, igniting a spark of wonder and worship, providing a sense of direction, offering a promise of hope, generating a spirit of peace.

If you take time to be still and let your eyes roam across the vast expanse of the night sky, you’ll find Polaris, also known as the North Star. It gives a point of reference for the traveler searching to find his way. While we stumble around, trying to find our way in the dark of night, this star – when kept in focus – helps us maintain a sense of direction. For centuries, travelers have relied on the North Star to guide them on their journey.

As we move through this holiday season, our attention is drawn to another guiding star: the Star of Bethlehem. Replicas of this shining light adorn Christmas trees and light up nativity scenes, as we join our voices and sing, “Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shining; it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.” Scripture tells us a star announced the birth of Jesus and served as a guiding light for the Magi. With the star firmly in focus, these wise men found their way to the One for whom they were searching – a king worthy of their precious gifts, their adoration, and their worship.

As my eyes gaze on the night sky, I find myself pondering where I turn for guidance on my own life journey – my ‘north star.’ What lights up the darkness that sometimes creeps in? What do I follow as I search for truth and understanding? What leads me to a place of wonder and worship – a place of peace?

The answers to these questions are found in this very season: a season of love, a season of joy, a season of hope and a season of promise. It’s not about ‘what.’ It’s about ‘who.’ It’s about the One who came to show us the way to have a personal, everlasting relationship with God – the Father of Light. He came for me – and He came for you. No matter how lost you feel or how dark it seems at times, He is there to show us the way – His way. Emmanuel. God with us.

My Christmas wish for you? That you will pause from the busyness of the season to look up and look within. To find God’s guiding light to lead you on your own personal journey and help you stay the course. Take time to look beyond the tinsel and wrappings to find the true light that will warm your heart and illuminate your path.

Make your way with the shepherds to kneel at the manger in wonder and worship. Join with the angels to fill the heavens with joyous songs of celebration. Travel with the wise men to meet – for yourself – the king who was born to bring us the guiding light of God’s love. Open your heart to receive the gift He has so freely given. Then consider what you will offer Him this Christmas Season as you celebrate His birth.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Peace be with you this Christmas.