I enjoy Christmas as a festival celebrating family and loved ones, and I particularly enjoy celebrating Christmas with our son Theo, who like most children, enjoy the anticipation of this special day of trees, gifts and songs. (Santa no longer plays a role for him now that he’s 10). But not being a Christian, I haven’t felt a real connection to the true reason for the Holiday. To my sister-in-law Judy, however, the Holiday has a very different meaning.
Judy, perhaps more than anyone else I know, feels genuinely excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and can’t wait to go to church and join others who share this feeling. Although I don’t share her religious views, I respect her faith, particularly because she has truly lived it throughout her life. Like both her parents, Judy chose to become a social worker and for many years as devoted herself to helping young at-risk women improve their lives and find their potential. In the almost fifteen years I have know Judy now, I have rarely heard her talk about what she would want for herself. She has consistently channeled her energy and resources into helping other women less fortunate than herself, and often at Christmas, when we have asked her what she would like as a gift, she has asked us to make a donation on her behalf to a charity or church.
Today, because of her deep devotion as a Christian, I gave Judy a little book called Perfect Love, a pocket book containing some of the teachings of St. Teresa of Avila, a 16th-century Spanish Carmelite nun, Catholic reformer and mystic who was deeply devoted to God. She spent much of her life as a nun in seclusion, deep meditation and in writing, particularly about the ascent of the soul through devotion and concentration, to ultimately achieve a divine communion with God.
I have had this little book for many years and, despite my good intentions, have not read it. Today, on such an important Christian day, I passed this little book on to Judy since she is someone who I believe will be able to appreciate the teachings more than I and perhaps even use them in her own work helping others.