I was startled to walk into Lowe’s the other day and see Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations boldly adorning the store, albeit at separate displays. I have become inured over the years to holiday preparations creeping ever forward but this was certainly a new twist in that narrative.
It makes me wonder what we are looking for. We could, if we chose, blame the usual suspects – namely the retail trade and related industries, but our cooperation has made it worthwhile. Stores would not have all these products if we were not willing to buy them. Holiday seasons are times when we envision ourselves as coming together as human beings, hoping to share in each other’s lives and give thanks for having communities to which we can belong. What does it mean when we push them all together with no space in between?
magazine published an article reporting that, despite the prevalence of social media, we are lonelier than ever before, despite living in an age of unprecedented electronic communication. It turns out that we are social animals who need face-to-face relationships and that need cannot be satisfied by social media or any other form of remote communication.
Might this make sense of those holiday displays? Are they there because they create hope we might be with real people in the flesh with whom we can share the comfort and enjoyment of relationship? Jon Sobrino, the Jesuit liberation theologian, describes our quest in life as being for “more of the real.” If he is correct, we need to be mindful of how we seek that real.
It is doubtful continuous holiday can achieve such a goal. It is certain that if we practice relationship we might just find more than we could have possibly imagined. Of course, we have to be willing to endure a bumpy road at times. There is nothing smooth in human relations, after all. But it was Jesus who had the sense to understand how deeply we need each other and that nothing much will happen if our lives are not imbedded in community.
As the evenings draw in and we wake to dark skies, take time to renew friendships old and new, reach out to fractured relationships, be open to new encounters, embrace those you hold dear, and gather each Sunday to practice. Don’t wait for a holiday. You can do it right now.
The Rev. Sue Eaves