That week between Christmas and New Year can be a reflective time, for me at least. Full of memories of Christmases gone by, taking stock of the year that’s about to slip away and looking forward to a calendar full of fresh empty pages.
I like working during that week. It’s usually pretty quiet, many of my co-workers have taken time off and it’s a great opportunity to get things done that for too long have lingered on the to-do list. It was one day during that week in 2012 that I left my office to take a walk around the building before going on the air. As I headed for the door, I stopped and looked at a plaque that’s been on the wall since August of 2011.
|I appropriated this plaque in August 2011.|
Before coming to my office, it had hung over Sheila Richard’s desk. Sheila died in August of 2011. “Second Christmas without Sheila,” I thought as I pushed through the door. The mind can be a funny thing. In my reflective mood that one thought led to memories of other loved ones who have gone on before and the precious few Christmases we had together. And from that to a quick calculation of how very few Christmases I had left with other, aging loved ones, family members and friends and the realization that we all of us are aging.
“What can we do, Lord,” I said (I often speak out loud to the Lord as I ponder the imponderables) “but make the most of the short time You give us here with each other.” And then as I turned the corner of the building I saw perhaps one of the saddest sights any lover of Christmas can see in the waning days of December.
What had only days before been a Christmas tree lot, full of the hope and potential joy of the season was now abandoned, a dozen or so trees left unceremoniously lying on the ground. So close to fulfilling their purpose, but now never to realize it. Strange, maybe, to think of a tree as having a purpose. But these trees did, once. They’d been raised, cultivated, nurtured for one ultimate purpose. To help some family celebrate the birth of the Savior. And while I’m sure that they may have served some secondary purposes, providing a home for some birds and pumping oxygen into our air, they fell short of what they had been intended to do. Maybe through no fault of their own, but short they fell, nonetheless.
“Lord, please don’t let me wind up like those trees,” I said. And while I’m not very big on the whole New Year’s resolution thing, I think I’ll make it a point to remember those forsaken trees through 2013 as I strive to more fully serve the purpose that’s been appointed to me.