Even for those faithful souls for whom Christmas begins on December 25 and continues for 12 days thereafter, the season is over. Epiphany has come and gone, the trees have been carted out to the street, and the boxes and gifts have been put away. The dog days of January and February have set in.
As I was browsing through a used bookstore, I chanced upon a small treasure, an early English translation of a book whose author we don’t know (identified only by place of residence as “the Frankfurter”). I could only guess at the date of composition (probably toward the end of the 14th century).
When I travel to New York City, I like to stay in one of the guest rooms at General Seminary down in Chelsea. The twin bed sheets are polyester and the bathroom is down the hall, but at $75 a night it may be the best deal in Manhattan. After spending at least that much on sushi and a theater ticket, I am mollified by walking up three flights of stairs to my humble lodgings.
I live in a city of candles. At one end of Main Street, there’s a little jewel box of a shop that sells pure beeswax candles along with aromatherapy supplies, bath salts and hand-milled soaps that promise to impart an aura of serenity to the mundane affairs of the daily toilet. A few doors down, perfumed candles fill the New Age bookstore with the scent of generic spirituality.
There will be no Christmas celebration in Bethlehem’s Manger Square this year. The annual festivities have been canceled because the organizers have deemed it inappropriate to celebrate in the midst of the conflicts and violence.
In 2006 Charles Roberts walked into an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, shot and killed five schoolgirls, injured another five and then took his own life. The Amish community immediately declared that it forgave Roberts for his heinous acts, and some of them reached out with compassion to Roberts’s mother. Roberts’s brother Zachary is now working on a documentary called Hope, focusing on his mother’s journey since the shootings. “How does the mother of a mass murderer move forward?” he asks. Forgiveness and faith have been the key ingredients in her life (Huffington Post, November 17).