A cold wind blew through Washington on Christmas morning but the skies were clear and blue and there was an eerie sense of calm.
Despite the howling at the windows, it seemed peaceful — a holiday respite from the partisan political darkness that so often shrouds this capital city.
For all of us — no matter what beliefs you claim as your own — Christmas in Washington tends to be an enchanted time, a time when the focus is on family, friends and faith.
No, despite what the president says, he did not bring back Christmas. It never left. And in this crazy era we live in, its message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is more welcome than ever.
Think of the Christmas story and the universal themes that remain relevant today. It is the story of an immigrant couple forced to leave home through no fault of their own with nowhere to stay and no one to welcome them.
A baby is born in a stable with animals and shepherds keeping watch. And then there are three wise men who are drawn to the scene and follow a star, bringing gifts for the child.
The tale of the wise men came into my thoughts as I looked out my window as the wind formed Christmas white caps on the Potomac River. Who are the three wise men of today?
The answer came as I scanned holiday messages in the news and on social media. There, I found three modern day wise men whose words provide guidance to us all. One is a man of God… one is a man of letters… and one is a man of great wealth and great humanity.
In a Christmas tweet, Pope Francis (@Pontifex) appeals to us all to listen to our better angels and to remember the real meaning of the holiday:
“Let us free Christmas from the worldliness that has taken it hostage. The true spirit of Christmas is the beauty of being loved by God.”
And in his Christmas Eve homily, there are thoughts on faith that apply to us all:
“The faith we proclaim tonight makes us see God present in all those situations where we think he is absent. He is present in the unwelcomed visitor, often unrecognizable, who walks through our cities and our neighborhoods, who travels on our buses and knocks on our doors.”
The plight of the migrant is a constant in Pope Francis’s holiday remarks, along with a Christmas Day warning that serenity is lacking at a time when the “winds of war” are already taking a toll on humanity.
His words are a Christmas gift to the world — words we all need to remember.
So are the holiday thoughts of Dan Rather, a veteran journalist and former TV news anchor in the United States. At the age of 86, he has embarked on a crusade to help bind America’s ideological wounds.
In a Christmas post on Facebook — his preferred medium these days — he writes:
“These are frightening times. I know that many face the hardships of life, health, and financial circumstance. I know that our divisions and inequalities are being stirred and fomented by many in political leadership. I know we face dire environmental and social challenges.”
And yet, Rather goes on to say that as he reflects on 2017 and looks ahead to 2018, he remains hopeful… and optimistic:
“I see acts of service, of political activism, and of empathy. I see steely determination that our nation should right its course. We are better than this. I know it. And I think most of you know it. Do not lose heart. And do not lose the will or courage to strive for what you believe to be the just and equitable destiny for the United States and the world at large. I know we can do great things as a nation, and as a global community, if we work together.”
Rather’s thoughts these days tend to be expansive… Warren Buffett’s are simple and brief.
Buffett is one of the richest men in the world and one of the most successful investors of all time.
And yet he lives in a modest house in the American mid-west that has been his family home since 1958, and eschews the trappings of wealth. What’s even more remarkable is the fact he is giving most of his fortune away and has pledged to leave 99% of his billions to philanthropic causes.
On Christmas Day 2017, this 87-year-old passed along a few words of wisdom in the form of a Tweet:
“Surround yourself with people that push you to do and be better. No drama or negativity. Just higher goals and higher motivation. Good times and positive energy. No jealousy or hate. Simply bring out the absolute best in others.”
Be good to each other… look out for each other… be your brother’s (and sister’s) keeper… remember your humanity… and never doubt the power of words of love.
May their thoughts be with you in the New Year.
Happy 2018 to all.