Monday, December 28, 2009

The Beauty of Christmas and the Beautiful

I "survived" another Christmas Eve dinner. I love Christmas, it's the most beautiful and hopeful of feasts but honestly, it's exhausting. The high point of Christmas Eve (besides the beautiful liturgy my family attended early in the evening) was my two-year-old cousin, who I adore. She opened one of the presents I bought her which was a cookie baking set, which came with accessories. She immediately put the oven mitt on, that it came with. It fit her perfectly and she served us wooden cookies on a tray. It was so sweet and a memory I will always hold dear. The food was also memorable and the gifts I received, the gifts given and so much more. 
One thing that I did in the last few weeks was to nominate a CNN hero for 2010. It was a simple online application. I recently had the privilege of meeting a modern day "hero,"who I nominated. I'm a fan of the CNN special show-"Heroes", which is an all-star tribute taped in Hollywood, and shown on Thanksgiving Night, which highlights modern day heroes.  If you are not familiar with the show, "heroes" are nominated by friends, acquaintances or relatives each year and then on Thanksgiving night the good works of these extraordinary human beings are highlighted on CNN along with film footage of their amazing projects. Ten are chosen and are given an award and a donation for their work. One is named the "CNN Hero of the Year." In 2009, Efren Penaflorida, who started a pushcart classroom in the Philippines to bring education to poor children was the top winner. On Thanksgiving night, I watched some of the show, and learned about the work of a community crusader from Queens, NY, who is sometimes called the "angel of Queens." Jorge Munoz, along with his family, feeds over a hundred homeless and hungry men each night, who "gather under the elevated 7 train in Jackson Heights, Queens." Munoz is a bus driver by day and when he comes home from work, he begins cooking the meals, with his family, for these poor people. He estimates that he has fed more than 70,000 people since 2004. A true hero, a true humanitarian. I'm so impressed with his noble community work and the other heroes, who have made a difference in the world and acted upon their desire to help those in need.  
For the New Year, besides my usual resolutions, I want to spend more time looking for the beauty that surrounds me. The beauty in others, in nature, in simple, quiet times, in my love of books and writing and in my relationship with God. There is much beauty in our world and sometimes we are just too caught up in living and striving and we forget to stop, look and appreciate more. 
I like this quote that I found in one of my books, Tea Time with God, "Beauty feeds our soul, like food nourishes our bodies. Beauty points us to the transcendent, takes us beyond our finiteness and opens our hearts to that which is greater and larger than ourselves."
A Blessed and Happy New Year to All! 

Keep a place in life for beauty    Leslie Weatherhead