It was a beautiful day here at Dove Lane yesterday. A perfect winter’s day with clear blue sky and not a breath of wind. The freezing air brought a crispness to the leaves bejeweled with frost that crunched under my feet,and as a big golden sun just topped the fir trees, it was the sort of day that reminded me a magical Christmas could be just around the corner.
Thinking about Christmas drawing closer, I was prompted to wrap up warmly and head off to the shopping centre to start some Christmas shopping. ‘Himself’ had gone fishing with his oldest friend who was over from Canada and was therefore well occupied, so I was ready to devote some hours to serious shopping.
Driving along with the radio on I listened to the news and to a report on the situation in war torn Syria, I listened to the very sobering news of people in Aleppo walking over the rubble of damaged buildings, while carrying their belongings. Around twenty thousand have fled their homes just over the past 72 hours. Many more thousands left before. Some people live in shelters, some in mosques, schools or tents, while others find refuge in damaged buildings. The majority of those who flee are families, many with infants and young children. How can they cope in flimsy shelters; their situations made worse for all as winter takes hold and temperatures drop?
I feel ashamed to think I have been a bit stressed over an imminent house move; bickering has broken out with some of the people in our housing chain who want to get on with things. This move is a chosen one with excitement and promise for the future. It has not been forced upon us in dire circumstances. Whatever happens, the situation is not dangerous or life threatening.
But for some, the implications of fleeing home are immense. It’s not just a matter of picking up a few things and leaving. There is a huge knock-on effect. Apart from leaving the familiarity of home, when sometimes it is all they have ever known, all their security, their haven, is gone. All they have left is a few belongings. I can only pray these innocent people, caught in the ugly crossfire of war, can be guaranteed a safe passage, and access to food and water, and medical care if they need it.
I saw a picture of children as young as six playing together amongst the destruction in Aleppo, with beaming smiles on their faces as they looked at the camera. Children are our future, the future of the world, and whatever their race and wherever they come from, they need a safe place to live; to learn and grow, and most of all, play without fear.
By the time I had parked in the busy town car park, I was in much more of a thoughtful mood. I listened to the cheerful Christmas music blaring out in every shop and looked at the shops loaded with luxury goods of all descriptions and wondered about all the commercialism, and how it is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the festive season. Do we lose sight of what is really important when we rush around trying to tick everything off our shopping list? The paradox is this: we get stressed at Christmas because we want to please everyone, and yet we would probably please them more if we reverted to the more simple ways of doing things. I still did my shopping; of course I want my loved ones to have a good Christmas, but I was more mindful of treading lightly with my thoughts, being considerate, and realising that everything gets done in time.
It is always easy to look back with rose-tinted spectacles. To look back at a time when life was simpler, and there was no online shopping, no permanent bombardment of advertisements tempting us to buy things we don’t really need, and we didn’t spend a fortune on gourmet foods with exotic names,( because we hadn’t heard of them and didn’t know we needed them).
But maybe sometimes it is good to stop and think about what we really need to be happy. And to think about those people who are just trying to survive.
You can donate to help a child in Syria at http://www.savethechildren.org or call 0800 8148 148
Every amount, no matter how small, will make a difference.
I’ve just been listening to people talking about having arguments at Christmas; how to keep the relatives happy and how can they make time for themselves. Every year it happens and yet the year rolls around and we forget about last years trials and tribulations and start the whole process again. Maybe this year things could be different!
In these frantic weeks before Christmas I wish you peace and love and the power to make a difference in whatever small and positive way you can.
Blessing to you.
Flags of Peace
I wish that I had special powers
And could turn everything around
So we could change the way we look at things,
And keep our feet upon the ground.
To ask the floating clouds above,
To spill the gentle rain,
To water the dry and barren land
And make it green again.
And could I harness the force of the wind,
Calm the raging sea,
Reign over nature’s wayward mind,
And let it quietly be?
For every child in every land,
There would be food enough to eat,
Arms stretched out to hold them tight,
And shelter from the heat.
And the warmest blanket
In the coldest night;
Comfort from a stranger;
And a candle burning bright.
And what if I could ask the world,
To find the path to peace,
With every country’s ‘flag unfurled
As all the wars have ceased?
But if I cannot change the world,
I can bend when the storm appears,
Do great things in smaller ways,
To dry another’s tears.
For I alone cannot decide
The way the world should be,
And I cannot begin to know
What there is still to see.
(C) Lyn Halvorsen