My cousin posted this picture on Facebook the other day. For some reason it really caught my attention. Usually I see things like this and scroll right past. This one made me stop. I have gone back to it a number of times, trying to figure out why.

There is something simple and beautiful about this picture. Maybe it tugs at my Catholic roots and reminds me of all those burning red candles we used to light. I know it made me stop and think about our parents, especially the sisters through whom we are tied. Or maybe the husbands we lost too early and miss this time of year. It brought up sadness and peace at the same time.

This time of year tends to bring to mind those who are gone. If we are not careful we can find ourselves in a sea of sadness. This picture reminds me that as a believer in Jesus Christ I can be sad for me and feel joy for them. There is an empty spot in my life, but as a Christian I believe in life eternal and know that we will one day be united. I trust that God has welcomed them to a place I can only begin to imagine and that the angels sang when they came home.

If you are missing a loved one this Christmas season and it is bringing you great sadness, I encourage you to talk to someone and share your sorrow. Share what you are thinking with someone who will listen with kindness and encourage you to find joy in the days you shared. Light a candle if it helps. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessing of time together. And ask that God would fill the empty spot in your life with joy.

One way to fill that hole is in service to others. This is a great time to take the love you remember and pass it on to those in need. Remember that little thing Jesus said about when we take care of others in need, we take care of him. And through your acts of giving, others might see that glimmer of Jesus in you and find peace and comfort in the midst of their bad day. I promise that you too will be blessed and when you think of this picture, you too will find a way to smile.

So thank you, dear cousin, for the tears and the smile. Thank you for the reminder that Christmas is about remembering our loved ones and honoring them in the way we live today.

God speed.

Maggie

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