WHAT MATTERS MOST THIS SEASON by Rector Chris Girata
WHAT MATTERS MOST THIS SEASON was published in the Katy Trail Weekly, "The Good Word" Column, December 21, 2019
Chris Girata is the Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, TX.
Take a moment to answer this simple question: What matters most to you? At Christmas, we get the chance to consider that profound, complex and dynamic question. For most of us, we will have a litany of answers that speak to the complexity of the question, but perhaps the answer can be simple. I recently read an article about how terminally ill children answered this question, and their answers are profound.
They literally felt better being near people they cared about and who cared for them.
Dr. Alastair McAlpine is a physician who works with children who suffer from life-threatening illnesses every day. He recently reported that he asked many of his patients, all between the ages of four and nine years old, what was most important in their life.
He reported that many of his patients mentioned their pets. “I love Rufus, his funny bark makes me laugh.” Another responded, “I love when Ginny snuggles up to me at night and purrs.” Other patients mentioned their parents, often expressing worry or concern. “Hope mum will be OK. She seems sad.” Another said, “Dad mustn’t worry. He’ll see me again soon.”
Many of the patients went on to report what they appreciated most about others in their lives. “My real friends didn’t care when my hair fell out.” And all of them noted the kindness they had been shown by others. “’My granny is so kind to me, Jonny gave me half his sandwich when I didn’t eat mine,” and “I like it when that kind nurse is here. She’s gentle. And it hurts less.”
Every one of those children was swallowed up with toys, balloons and treats, yet when asked what was most important, they pointed to people, to the connections they have with others. They literally felt better being near people they cared about and who cared for them.
This Christmas, what matters most is being with one another.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the drama of this Christmas season. Did you get the right present? Will there be a big fight between family members? Will the food be ready on time? All of these issues are real and they matter somewhat, but they don’t matter nearly as much as spending time together.
This Christmas, what matters most is being with one another. If you can spend extra time with loved ones, do. If you don’t have loved ones around you, find a place where you won’t have to be alone. And if you can spare the gift of time, consider sharing yourself – just your presence – with those who will feel alone.
Yes, for children, this is the birthday of Jesus. But I promise you that Jesus is much more interested in how we treat one another than how we throw his birthday party. So, this year, don’t get distracted by the trappings of the holiday. Instead, actually love one another generously and fiercely, because when we share love, we experience what matters most.
"The Good Word" Column is published bi-weekly, and can be picked up at the Saint Michael South Entrance.
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