Thursday, December 20, 2007

Santa in the Shadows

The last couple of days my wife, Ruth, has come home from work exhausted. On Tuesday it was a twelve hour marathon as all the staff from Bethesda House shelter prepared for and carried out the annual Christmas party for current residents and those who had been clients through the year. The Clarington highschool gym was crowded with moms and children.

Wednesday was no respite. Ninety hampers of food and toys were given out to clients to make Christmas seem like a celebration rather than a defeat. All of them had to be first put together, then carried up from the basement of a local church which was the distribution centre. This year the community responded with great generosity so there was abundance for every hamper -- and tons of weight to lug up the stairs!

When Ruth walked through our door she admitted that as she trudged home she was tired to the point of tears. But as she passed a dark laneway she caught the movement of a person out of the corner of her eye. Lo and behold it was Santa in full costume (on the way home from some Christmas party?) who shook his bells and called out "Merry Christmas." Ruth said it was so unexpected and lifted her spirits.

The church often has trouble making it's peace with Santa because of the materialism he can represent. Except that Saint Nicholas was a real person, a Christian with a heart for the poor and down-trodden.

Today I will go at noon for the Christmas dinner our St. Paul's women provide for those in our community who live with mental health issues and are often lonely.

God bless all those who live out the spirit of generous love in this season and all through the year.

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