Peace Be With You

Peace be with you.” My family and I attend church regularly. The Roman Catholic religion is steeped in long standing traditions and rarely changing rules and rituals. In the past two weeks, we have noticed that at the services there was no moment where we could all turn to those around us and wish them peace. The first time, I was surprised, but as we were visiting a different church, we dismissed it with as being unique to there. This week once again we attended church and once again there was no “peace by with you”. It is missed. The camaraderie and support that the simple act of smiling to others and shaking hands of those you might not know if important to the day and to the greater kindness of each of us towards each other.

 

Acknowledgment is the opposite of ignorance which breeds contention, frustration, and too some extent a level of isolation. There are many in this world in which a church service might be the only interaction with others in a given week. We see each other and understand we are there by choice. It is a group united in belief, and a feeling of friendship among those around us is felt. It helps with the fundamental need for interaction.

 

There is a moral uplift when we great another. Listening to what someone has to say or nodding with a smile as one walks briskly by a stranger on a street is a sign of our humanity towards each other. Part of what I do for living is a shaking hands, and meeting new people in all sorts of locations and in all of different backgrounds, and I am thankful for it. I am so grateful I have met people I might not otherwise have met, by simply reaching out my name and saying a few words. Those few words often open up floodgates of conversation and a lasting interaction.

 

In these days of a new administration and rallies for and against, there is an importance in reminding each other that regardless of whether we disagree on certain subjects, we still wish peace upon each other. It is a message that we want another to feel that we care about them. That we wish them the peace that can be given and the sense of calmness that comes when one says and is told kind words. I hope that we can always remember to wish peace upon others. It is when we wish peace that we feel one of the strongest and natural senses of compassion towards one another. I hope that peace continues to be spoken aloud to to encourage tolerance and kindness. Peace is the word that signifies hope for the future.

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The Importance of First Responders

Alexis de Tocqueville is one of the founders of the idea of civil service. In the recent past there was a ime in America when the country was still in its infancy and could not meet the needs of the struggling or in need of emergency help. The country needed to survive. As a young country, we needed our strength for independence and rights and our future, and so therefore there was a void in the basic needs of those that were struggling for life before prosperity. America survives on a history and a remaining belief in volunteerism. To help our fellow man when they cannot help themselves. Where the federal part of our nation was or is unequipped, the volunteers emerged. It is from our history of volunteerism that makes America unique and united.

 

Recently there was a large fire in a building where I and many others have an office. It is located in a rural country area, across from farm fields and a local hospital. A short drive later and while the sun was still rising over the flat country fields, I could see the bright lights of the emergency vehicles. I had been awaken in the early morning hours of a fire. I had visions of one firetruck present and small damage that might easily be fixed in a quick speed of time. Instead I saw more fire trucks than I could have ever imagines From every corner of the country there was a truck, a ladder raised, a water tanker filled, fireman scattered everywhere.

 

In the county in which I live the fireman volunteer. They wake up early with alarms that wake not only themselves, but their families from sleep. These volunteers dress in the dark, and risk their lives, and dismiss the risk with a small shrug or with a cursory kiss in the night to their loved ones, as they step into their cars and towards their stations to take them to the unknown.

 

First responders not only risk their lives, but often, as in this case, they have the foresight to think of what should or could be saved. They think beyond the fire to the belongings inside that are not replaceable. They think as the ones on the scenes when the owners are not. They volunteer at the ultimate level.

These men and women have real jobs and families and need to find a balance and an understanding in their choice to volunteer and risk all at any time. They may take trucks together, but some must leave earlier than others to return to their jobs and put the hard and exhausting struggle of the night before behind them. I found myself volunteering to drive people to work if they needed, as they had taken their company trucks to the alarm as a united front. There are many aspects and logistics of volunteering that one might not think about until seen first hand.

 

This country is a great country because it was built on the idea of the necessity of volunteerism, to help our fellow citizens where they cannot help themselves. Every volunteer is a necessary element to this country, and we should be always reminded to help each other. To thank those help us, and to be grateful for all those that sacrifice their time to help another in their time of need. We always gain by giving, but remembering to be grateful to those that incur sacrifice on our behalf is always worthy of thankfulness.

Auld Lang Syne

The New Year is upon us, and with it celebrations to top off a season filled with gatherings and music. The holiday season has months worths of songs, but on New Years we always turn to the song written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Auld Lang Syne is a requirement on that night to hear played loud and brightly. We know the melody of the Old Scottish Air, but the words seem harder to sing along to than most with its specific dialectic and archaic words and spellings, and so it is nice to take a moment during the month of New Years to remember Robert Burns the man who wrote the poem that became the entire world’s celebratory song to usher in the new year.

Auld Lange is a song based on a poem written centuries ago, and its words endure even when the meaning sometimes takes a moment of translating. It is about kindness and friendship and reflecting upon what has happened in the past year while looking towards the next. Robert Burns was a writer and a poet born in the mid eighteen century in a small town in Scotland. Burns considered leaving his native farming area to travel and to raise the money for his trip to he chose his best poems and had them published together as the Kilmarnock Edition. This book of his poems was so immediately successful that he decided to stay in Scotland and live in the city of Edinburgh. He earned fame and success as a poet and his words endure. We celebrate his works and his life each time we sing Auld Lang Syne.

In Scotland the winters are cold and dark comes early. There are always warm and cheerful pubs and restaurants with fireplaces and comfortable chairs to spend time in with family and friends. Burns Night in the United Kingdom is celebrated in January on or near his birth of January 25th. In many part of the United Kingdom special dinner celebration are organized in homes or by restaurants with themed menus. The menu usually varies little in its loyalty to traditions. The dinner is started with a rich meat broth sometimes made of lamb, and the evening is highlighted by haggis, which is a savory meat dish specialty of Scotland or salmon and finished with a hot rhubarb and oatmeal crumble with a sweetened cream and the tables are lit by only candlelight. Often there is a man hired for the evening dressed as Robert Burns who offers his Scottish blessing and his poetry is read throughout the evening as each course is paired with samplings of Scottish whiskey. It is a magical night of unexpected learning and fun and puts perspective on that song that we all want to hear when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Follow Melissa DeCastro on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Melissalynn011
MORE: New Years Eve Auld Lang Syne Kindness Cheer Robert Burns Scotland

Sprinkle Joy

This month is a month of celebrations. The days are often colder and darker and we seek light and warmth. From giant menorahs to dancing snowflakes and candy canes hung outside of otherwise sleek office buildings, it is a time to glow brightest and shine .The holiday season is rarely understated. In days when the laughter of gatherings are often kept indoors with more intimate invitations, we want to share our joy with the outside. In houses in the country and windows in the city, there is beauty in decorating for others, of giving gifts to acknowledge importance in our lives, and always choosing to sprinkle joy.

“Sprinkle Joy”. That sign remains one of the most beautiful decorations I have ever seen. It hung on an otherwise unadorned bank building, in stark contrast with live actors dressed up as dancing fairies in windows and gold and pine green branches adorned outside of neighboring stores. The plain grey and white with the beautiful words by Ralph Waldo Emerson stood bright amongst the rest. It serves as a reminder to always try and bring joy to each day and to every person we encounter.

Many have the ability to give gifts, but it is important to recognize the ability to give joy. As Thanksgiving is when we tend to focus on what we have, this month is when our attention is focused on how we can give to others. There are certain people that when they walk into a room it is as if they are wearing a glowing diadem of warmth and happiness. Every moment is chance and a choice to complain or commend. When we see the good in others, it always improves our own outlook towards each day and memory of the moment.

Compliments and kind gestures never diminish from our own attributes, but rather heighten an awareness for what we appreciate in others and look for in ourselves. We may remember an unkind moment in the past, but we always seek kindness in our present. As beauty can attract and interest keeps, it is the joy around us that both attracts and keeps us wanting to be in its presence.

Recently, I was crossing a darkened city street in the height of rush hour and there was construction in the middle of the road. There in the midst of what could have been a wholly unpleasant scene was a man hard at work wearing his issued hardhat which he had completely adorned with colored lights. It was a beautiful sight to see the purposeful intention of bringing joy to the unexpected.

We often travel the most this time of year, and we may encounter people along the way that we might not see again, the ticket agent, the restaurant worker, the stranger sitting next to us, it is important to always treat each person as if we will always see them again. To remember to always be kind and speak well to those around us. To be the one who purposeful brings light to the unexpected. We gain when we give, and it is always best to sprinkle joy.

Follow Melissa DeCastro on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Melissalynn011
MORE: Joy! Happiness Holidays Positive Kindness Sprinkle Joy