Welcome, and thank-you for visiting my domain.
Christmas is my favourite time of year! As I say that, I realize I’m saying it because it’s here.
I have other times of the year that are my favourite as soon as they arrive! Maybe what I really want to say is I’m grateful to be alive and able to celebrate each of the seasons, all of the holidays, anniversaries, the beginning of weekends, the start and finish of a job or a project, etc. Shall I go on? OK then, I won’t because you get my drift!
I will say, though, if you don’t mind, that I also enjoy experiencing and watching others enjoy what’s important to them in their lives, be it Ramadan, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or other special celebrations and events that I didn’t grow up with.
Speaking of growing up, I recall as a boy how in St John’s, Newfoundland, there was a rule, sometimes spoken and sometimes not, sometimes enforced and sometimes
not, that the Catholics and Protestants should never mix because each of them was closer to Heaven or Hell. If you were one or the other, you would surely go to Hell if you got to close to the other. In each of our minds, there was “no doubt” that we were God’s chosen ones. I was always surprised and a little confused when I met a person or, especially a girl, who wasn’t one of the chosen ones, but they were kind, friendly and, holy smokes, they liked me, too. It just didn’t make sense!
Well at the age of seven I had to travel away from my home in St. John’s to go to the School for the Blind in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There were kids attending the school from all across Atlantic Canada – Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland – who came from First Nation Homes, French Acadian backgrounds, Scottish ancestry, Irish bloodlines, Italian and Chinese families, not to mention several different religious denominations.
Every Sunday morning there would be a time and a line-up for the kids representing each religion and I was positive that the Catholic line was the one that pointed straight toward Heaven and weren’t all those other kids dammed, misguided and unfortunately going down to the fiery depths of Hell?
Thank God for Mr. Edison Fraser!
Mr. Fraser came to the Halifax School for the Blind when I was in grade eight.
He encouraged and enticed each of us to take turns going to one another’s church. He enticed us on the cold winter Sundays by suggesting that we take the shorter walk to the
other guy’s church and in the warmer months to sleep in a little longer and go to the service that was scheduled a little later in the day.
You’re sensing where this is going, and you’re correct. Before too long we were learning about other religions, how some services were more fun, exciting or made what was confusing or boring in another church very clear and engaging. We also came to discover that every line-up took us to a different destination here on Earth, but in the end they all went to the same wonderful and beautiful place beyond this world and to our Creator or God .
So, as a result of Mr. Fraser’s insightful gift to us in those impressionable years, I am grateful and I believe I am blessed to be free of any prejudice towards those of different colour, those of other religions or those who are unlike me in many ways. In fact, I am excited about the diversity in others and seize any opportunity to learn about and from others who share this planet regardless of their origin.
My prayer, my meditation, my wish at this favourite time of year is that each of us find it in our hearts to truly be not afraid of another’s religion or other differences and
thereby come to a common understanding and respect which would be a universal spiritual and yes even physical state of peace for all of us right here on Earth.
I find it fascinating that throughout all the world wars, the wars spawned from religious prejudices and most disputes, the majority of people truly want to live in peace. When the masses do not get to enjoy peace, it is often due to a few who are driven by greed or extremism.
This fact is clearly and poignantly illuminated in John McCutcheon’s beautifully crafted song, “Christmas In The Trenches”, that I just had to include on my “Olde Tyme Christmas” recording.
Thanks for dropping by.
Please come again.