WINTER SOLSTICE CHEER

DSC03760.JPG After spending the past five years in the north, I am happy to return to the place where I lived for so many years in north Florida. We spent some time this past weekend taking advantage of nice weather while sending some of our warm thoughts back to those of you in the throes of an early onset of winter.

Tonight, it’s a bit chilly outside, but remembering the time spent on the Wakulla River and at Wakulla Springs warms me. For the winter solstice, I hope to light a fire in the yard in a symbolic gesture for hope in 2017.

I wish you all the happiness of the season and peace in your life. Take a break from wrapping presents, baking cookies, cleaning house, and shopping to see how the “wild” side spends the holidays.

Love Like Jesus

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Today many people in the world are celebrating Christmas. We open our presents; we visit with family; and we eat too much.

For centuries, this time of year resonates with celebration from Hanukkah to winter solstice. But the actual celebration of Christmas began as a way to honor the birth of Jesus. So on this day, I offer what I believe are some of the most important lessons we can incorporate into our lives, and they come from the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus taught through words and example about love. It’s the simplest concept in the world, but the hardest to embrace at times.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

In my humble translation, this does not mean to brag or announce your light, but to let your light, your example shine through your existence. In the writing world, it’s called “show, don’t tell.” You don’t have to shout out “I’m a good person.” Be that good person and the world will know.

Matthew 5:43-44 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Tough one, I know, but it’s worth the effort. It takes a lot less effort to love someone than to hate them. To love is to forgive and when we forgive, we unleash a sled full of negativity. Forgiveness is simply the choice to change our perceptions.

Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

A woman I admire recently told me she lives by this teaching. Sometimes it takes a conscious effort in our everyday lives to incorporate this, but it is worth it. And when we act unto others as we wish them to act unto us, we pay it forward as well. There’s a chance our actions will multiply out into the world, and I’d much rather positive energy repeated than negative.

Matthew 7:1-5 Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye?

This is one of the most important teachings. One thing I have learned during my five decades plus on this earth: Unless you’ve walked in the actual shoes and footsteps of another person, you have no idea the motivation behind that person’s actions. We tend to look at a person and put our experiences and background on his behavior. I don’t want to be judged by another person’s experiences. Judge me only until you have experienced what I have experienced in this lifetime. I catch myself judging others too often, but I’m able to recognize it most of the time. All of the other teachings of Jesus fall right into line with this one.

Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

There’s really nothing more to add except to wish you all an abundant and peaceful Christmas, Hanukkah, winter solstice, Kwanza, or whatever else you choose to celebrate at this time of year. Whatever you celebrate, do it with love, and 2013 is sure to be the best year ever.