Sunday, May 28, 2006

Traveling Light

One of my favorite stories:

Two monks were walking through the woods after a heavy rainstorm. Upon reaching a river that had almost gone over its banks, they met a woman who needed to cross but was clearly afraid. Without a word, the older monk picked her up and carried her across the river. The younger monk looked shocked at this action, but kept his silence as they continued their journey. Finally, he blurted out "You know that it is against the rules of our order to have any contact with women. How could you do that?" "I put the woman down after we crossed the river," said the elder. "Why are you still carrying her?"

Someone once said that worrying about things that are over and done with is like sawing sawdust. There's no point in it, of course, because it's already been sawed!

In December 1991, Terry Anderson, an American journalist, was released after 2,455 days—nearly seven years—as a hostage in Lebanon. During a televised news conference, he was asked how he intended to help capture and punish his captors. Mr. Anderson replied that he had no intention of being involved in a pursuit of his kidnappers. “I’m a Christian…” Mr. Anderson said. “It’s required of me that I forgive, no matter how hard it may be. …I have a whole new life. It’s going to be happy.”

Terry Anderson’s reply, perhaps disappointing to reporters seeking a sensational comment, reminds us that in a world often filled with anger and revenge, there are courageous people committed to good principles. Indeed, the sorrows of the entire world would be immeasurably lightened if more people would cultivate such a heart.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Tonight, I attended for the second year in a row the annual Luminaria at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. It is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. As you walk up the hill at the cemetery entrance and come over the ridge, the sea of over 15,000 candles in white paper bags (one at each Union soldier's grave) is overwhelming. Last year, I didn't know what to expect, and was so taken back by what I saw. Tonight was just as good, since I was able to share the experience with Annette, who wasn't able to go last year.

As with many of the civil war sites, there is a strong feeling of reverence about this cemetery. The flickering candles provide an additional visual impact of just how many soldiers are buried in that one cemetery. At one point while we were walking around, someone played "Taps" on a bugle from across the cemetery. It was the one moment when the hundreds of attendees there at that time came to complete silence.

What a way to honor those who have given all for a cause more important than their own lives.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Oh What a Holiday!

I took our Christmas tree down today. That's always kind of hard for me to do, seeing as I enjoy the Old Taunenbaum so much. I've always relished creeping into the room, lying on the couch, and staring at the tree in otherwise dark surroundings. A habit I picked up from my wife is to squint my eyes and make all the lights turn into dazzling stars. For a special treat if I'm wearing my glasses instead of my contacts, I take my glasses off--then the tree really puts on a show!

I think what I love most about the tree though is the whole season that it's a part of. I have so many fond memories of Christmastime. When I was younger I looked forward to our annual family Christmas Eve gathering and program that always included a reenactment of the Nativity. After the program, I always came in dressed up like Santa to hand out treats. On Christmas morning, I remember waiting impatiently as my Dad took FOREVER to get ready before we went downstairs to see what Santa had brought.

My two Christmas seasons in Hong Kong were extremely memorable, in that I came to really appreciate the important things, and how much better it is to give than to receive.

And there is nothing that can compare to sharing Christmas with your special someone, and watching Christmas together through your own children’s eyes. The festivity increases as you see them experience the awe and wonder that you already know, and start traditions of your own.

Even though our family is maturing now, this Christmas was no exception. We were able to see all of our family by traveling to Utah for Christmas, then to Georgia for New Year’s Eve. We experienced added yuletide cheer as a result of superb in-laws and a beautiful new granddaughter. We returned home well-fed and full of many fond memories to add to our collection.

So, for now I store the white mini-lights, listen one more time to Bing Crosby's "Round and Round the Christmas Tree", and tuck those memories away in a good place. I’m already looking forward to next year when we trim the tree to begin another holiday season.

Until then, my evergreen friend.