Monday, December 14, 2009


As the family tree gains more branches, the holiday season seems to lengthen to accommodate all the travelling. This year we started early in December to visit our son and his family in Maryland. What should have been an easy time, since we were flying and not doing the eleven hour drive, turned into something quite eventful. On the way down, out of the blue Alan asked when my passport expired. I was quite surprised and terrified to realize it was a year ago. “Not to worry,” I replied, “one way or another we’ll make it.” Good things happen to good people.

And so we drove to the airport where I was immediately turned away. I was quite surprised because looking back, I had travelled numerous times with the same lapsed passport. I guess the crackdown in the spring was now in full effect and there were no longer any discretionary calls. The attendant suggested I go to the passport office and try to get an extension like a previous customer had done. In the parking lot, my husband lost patience with a driver and I reminded him, if we wanted goodness and mercy to happen to us, we had to give it to others. He recognized I was right and calmed down. In the passport office we were greeted by a friendly security guard and sent to a wonderful young man who told us extensions were no longer available. The next option was to take a picture and reapply. After a few more harrowing obstacles and many, many hours, we were on the plane headed south. Good things happen to good people.

In Maryland, there was so much kindness and generosity in the air we were all rewarded by waking up to a miraculous white Christmas. That night, after a day filled with such joy, I turned to my husband and told him if I’d died right then, I’d die a happy person. He understood.

I think all religions have some version of Karma or the Golden Rule. It seems to be a universal truth: you get what you give. I don’t think there is a God keeping track of what we do, judging us to be worthy of this or that, but rather a vibration of love we give off that connects us to a web of like-hearted folk. Greedy, childish people who can often be heard saying ‘I want’ never seem to have any luck, while those who lend a hand even when it’s inconvenient find their driveways plowed on return from more travels to a family funeral. Good things happen to good people.

It’s very difficult to give up the ego, to give up thinking we are alone in the world and have to look out for our own best interests. We are bombarded with that message all the time from advertisers and even some religious and political leaders.

It’s like there are parallel universes here on earth, the hell of those who are anxious and needy, and the heaven of those who are at peace with whatever their circumstances may be. The funny thing is these two worlds have nothing to do with one’s physical reality, what health or wealth one has or doesn’t have, but rather with what one is a part of: a family, a community, the universe. When we feel a part of something, are interdependent, we know our needs will be taken care of.

On the flight south, I began thinking of the words ‘goodness and mercy’. They seemed familiar but I couldn’t place them – ‘may goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life’? It wasn’t until we were at a funeral a few days later where Psalm 23 was a chosen reading that my answer came. When I change a few words, it had even more resonance for me.

Love is my shepherd; I shall not want.
It maketh me to lie down in green pastures; It leadeth me beside still waters.
It restoreth my soul; It guideth me in straight paths for its sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Love is with me; Its rod and its staff, they comfort me.
It preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
It hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of Love for ever.

Wishing you all a season of goodness and mercy - wherever the branches of your family tree may lead you.