A Word from Mr. Nunan
The Real Work of Christmas
Recently, Marilyn McGoldrick, CSJ, led a meeting with this prayer from Howard Thurman:When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins.To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.
As the holiday lights come off the houses and the holiday songs come off the radio stations, as the familiar decorations are stored in the closet and the greeting cards are removed from the mantle, as the shopping and hustle-and-bustle subside, as the tree is put out by the curb (or put back in the box), we are often left wondering, “What now?” “What next?”
Perhaps this prayer is an answer for us. Christmas was—and always will be—a beginning. It is a start. So often, as I shared with our students, our focus around the holidays is on many wonderful (and necessary) projects to support the greater, broader community. From the Oxfam Fast to the Angel Tree Project, from volunteering at Christmas in the City to helping the Sisters decorate the Motherhouse, our young people (and their families) reached out to those far and wide.
Let’s try to do the same with those near and close.
We can help our friends who are lost… anxious about midterms, looking for study comrades and review partners… or alone, struggling hard to get through the latest of life’s challenges.
We can help our classmates who are broken… or bruised… trying to recover from some small setback or minor injury, or trying to come to terms with some difficult news.
We can help our teammates who are hungry… starving for acceptance and affirmation, looking for an encouraging word or a supportive gesture, or just wanting part of our snack!
We can help the prisoners among us… who feel they are imprisoned by the expectations of others, trapped by the past or the present, even limited by false views of themselves.
We can rebuild the nations… or at least rebuild the little communities of people in our lives—a grade level, an athletic team, a class, a family, or a small group of friends.
We can bring peace among people… in each and every relationship, with siblings and parents, with classmates and teammates, and especially with friends… let us bring peace.
In this way, we will make the music in the heart; the Christmas bells will keep ringing and the Christmas noels will keep playing… and we will be doing the real work of Christmas.