Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lip Service

The question is, are all the toasts we make,  promises we utter, the resolutions we list year after year after year simply pretty words? Is it just the scripted thing to do because we've always done it, because this is what one does on New Year's Eve? Do our vows simply fall from our mouths like confetti to decorate our New Year celebrations, or rise in the night air, only to burst when the clock strikes midnight? I think the power of a truly new, joyful, prosperous and meaningful future lies in contrition for past misdeeds and the desire and heart, wisdom, spirit, truth and determination with which we speak these words. Anything less is simply lip service.      

           Lip Service
(Thoughts upon a New Year's Eve)

After all is said and done
And the last toast is uttered,
After the final resolution
We are no better, no worse than before
This ceremonious passing of time
Stubbornly entrenched in old ways,
We cheer on the new
While our hearts remain unchanged,
Our minds unyielding,
Our souls secluded
In prisons of self-complacency.
And together we go our separate ways
With cups raised high in celebration,
Looking toward a new mediocrity.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


(Music: "Silent Night" by Tim Janis, piano)

My husband, Scott, and I were recently watching the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, which is actually entitled, simply, Scrooge. We love how there are subtle differences in each of the versions of this beloved story. For instance, in the 1951 version, when Jacob Marley and the other spirits conversed with Ebenezer Scrooge, they spoke of his "reclamation". We smiled, enjoying the variance of another era, and loved the sound of the word, talking about how that word is never used anymore. I've been thinking about the word ever since.

For the first time this year, it snowed that same night; I couldn't sleep and headed outside to watch the falling snow. I could feel my spirits lift, my heart sore as I watched in excitement like a child, the silvery flecks in the bright light at the back door of our house; the snow was soft and brilliant and fluttered so gently to the gelid ground below. And as the snow collected on the grass, the light reclaimed it as stars sparkling from the heavens, even in the place where my feet disturbed its purity. I could not get the melody of Silent Night out of my head, but sang instead "silent night, snowy night...". It was absolutely beautiful: the snow, the profound quietude and the sweet melody of a silent night. I wondered if the composer might have known that his creation would resound forever, as the Composer of the song of life knew that His creation would forever live...

I can't imagine Christmas without singing Silent Night. There are few songs that can dispel the darkness and elevate as it does; and I pray the world awakens before there truly are no more silent nightsin song or in life.

Christmas, as any earthly joy, is fleeting. So let us all, with Ebenezer Scrooge, keep Christmas in our hearts, and promise to "live in the Past, the Present and the Future", allowing the spirits of all three to "strive within us!". My Christmas wish is that all hearts remain open to the love born this silent, holy night. May we all know the true joy and peace of the season, as we become increasingly aware that our reclamation can be solely found swaddled, in the sweet, soft hay of a lowly manger.

("Reclamation" to be recited, or sung to the melody of "Silent Night")

(by Monica E. Smith)

Silent night, snowy night
All is still, soft and white
Round the world people gather with smiles
Accepting God's love in the gift of a child
Waiting for crying to cease
Longing for heavenly peace

Silent night, snowy night
Heaven's love, shining bright
In the darkness a single star
Leading His people from near and far
Jesus be our guide
While with you we ever abide

Silent night, snowy night
God's own child, in our sight
All the world glows with heavenly grace
Dispelling the darkness of this lowly place
Christ has come to earth
Reclaiming our lives by His birth

Merry Christmas! And may God bless us all. Every one!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All is Not Calm...

Wouldn't it be nice if that night for which we wait each year was truly a silent, holy night? What would it take to make it so?

For so many, Christmas has been diminished to getting the best sale on Black Friday, and now, Cyber Monday. How sad. How meaningless and empty. And at the same time, we're so caught up in the wrongs of others, offended that we have been wished "Happy Holidays!" rather than "Merry Christmas!". In the scheme of things, does it really matter? If you feel moved to wish someone "Merry Christmas!" do it. Why be so concerned, certain that the person who wishes you "Happy Holidays!" in return is using the wrong words? Does that, somehow, take away from your Christmas celebration? Can you honestly say you know what is in that person's heart? I think it a bit self-righteous to assume a person who greets you with "Happy Holidays" is attacking Christianity. People have been saying it for years with the simple and kind intent of spreading holiday cheer, and now, suddenly it becomes anathema. We seem to be missing the forest for the Christmas trees. I believe Jesus Christ seems to be more concerned with a person's heart rather than his choice of words. Is the person who greets another with "Merry Christmas" somehow a better Christian than one who does not? Wouldn't actually living the Gospel in our own lives be a much more productive and magnetic defense of Christ?

There are so many opportunities during the Christmas season for us to do this, so many ways to enhance our own Christmas traditions and activities, and give them life again. There are so many opportunities to stand in solidarity with those who hunger and thirst, or are in need in any way, and that do not take away from our celebrations, but in fact, enrich them.  There are so many ways to embrace those less fortunate than we are and include them in our lives, so many opportunities for us to "be" Christ. Ebenezer Scrooge learned this before it  was too late. Will we? Here are just two of which I have recently become aware.

Seven-year-old Nathan Elfrink has been fighting brain cancer for about five years. He is losing his battle. His Christmas wish is to receive one million Christmas cards before he dies. What an enormous wish for a little boy. What a small wish to grant. I intend to send Nathan a card and, perhaps, a little gift. If anyone else wishes to do so, you may reach Nathan at 2415 Taylor Blair Road; West Jefferson, Ohio 43162. And while you're at it, please, pass the word.

Linda Gibbons languishes in a Canadian prison for the unspeakable crime of standing outside of an abortion clinic and praying for the people who come and go there. She is witnessing to the Gospel in opposition to the Canadian *"bubble zone" law. St. Paul entreats us to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). How much would a simple Christmas card and greeting encourage Linda Gibbons and make her Christmas more joyful! Cards can be sent to her at:

Attention: Linda Gibbons
Vanier Center for Women
655 Martin Street, Box 1040
Milton, Ontario

(This prison normally incarcerates those who are convicted of drug-related crimes, so the following requirements are in place for correspondence):

Do not use stickers of any kind on envelope or card

Do not send laminated materials

Do not ask direct questions about daily activities at the detention center

Put your address also directly in the card or letter, because sometimes the mail sorter keeps the envelopes and Linda cannot write back if she chooses to do so

Monetary gifts to Linda must be a money order made out to "Linda Gibbons". The detention center deposits the money directly into her account. She uses any donations she might receive for envelopes and stamps.

Linda cannot receive books or pro-life materials that show post-abortion photos

I certainly do not condemn our respective Christmas traditions; I love the sound of carols, the snow and ornaments on a tree, the brightly colored lights and the personal traditions I grew up with, and still continue to this day with my family. It simply would not be Christmas without them! These are all beautiful and joyful ways to keep Christmas in our hearts. I don't believe it matters that Jesus was not actually born on December 25, nor does it matter how the celebration of His birth came about. It does not matter whether someone wishes you "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Holidays!" or "Peace". What matters is that "it is", that He is. What matters is that we celebrate His birth with joy and love, compassion and benevolence, as He lived. After all the shopping, the baking, the decorating, it is good to keep in mind that all our preparation and celebration is centered, and should focus around the birth of Jesus Christ. So, "What ought we to do?" Let joy and gladness show forth in you. You are called to be the presence of Jesus. (Luke 3:10-18).

Peace, and Merry Christmas!

(*about bubble zone laws)