Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Christmas List

My Christmas list this year reads as follows;

Handmade ring setting for currently-unset gems - $2000
Elsa Peretti heart shaped gold earrings from Tiffany - $1500
Black leather gloves from Nordstrom - $80
Slippers - $45
Enamel and gold passport charm bracelet charm - $275
Serving tray - $80
Bulgari perfume/soap - $125/$27
Williams-Sonoma Christmas dinner plates - $120
Crate and Barrel red glass wine glasses - $32
Platinum hoop earrings - $460
Troll beads - $25 – virtually limitless

Now it’s true that I don’t expect to get everything on this list (and I won’t). This list is more of a ‘hope/vague suggestion list’ than a list of expectations. And it’s also true that I will be grateful for everything I receive. I’ve never been the sort of person to have a huge sense of entitlement and I don’t regret the things I’ll never own. However….

It occurs to me as I read this list that there’s not one thing on this list that I truly need. And that suggests to me that my list reads as it does because all my needs have been already met. And that’s the sort of statement that should make all of us stop and think.

Nowhere on my list does it say “fresh water”, or “food for my children”, or “medical care”. Nowhere does it read “education”, or “safety from violence”. I’m not asking Santa for a job, for the right to vote, for a roof over my head, for a cessation to fighting in my neighborhood or for healing for any harm done to me or to those I love. It’s the Christmas season here in beautiful New York and I am in the process of stuffing my stocking with as many luxury items and non-essentials as I can accumulate. As Bono once said when introducing one of his fundraising efforts:

“I am a fat cat in the snow.”

But as life would have it, I believe in God. And I believe in a God who is sovereign over me and who hasn’t taken his eye away from this world, or from those whose stockings will be significantly less empty than mine this Christmas. And I believe that the God I honor set a significant example – a template if you will - when sending his son to be born in a manger rather than a palace, and that it’s a template which God expects us still to fill. There is something appalling and rather less than lovely about my Christmas list when set against the lives of some other of God’s children in this world we share.

I am aware that, were someone homeless, wounded, destitute or suffering to appear at my door I would not turn my back. And yet – people who suffer in all these ways are easily accessible to help. Am I simply benefiting from the ability to avert my gaze? Am I benefiting from distance? From insularity? Is the entire nature of my Christmas formulated around the unspoken assumption that I just won’t look beyond my own pine scented, fairy lighted living room? In other words, will it all be ok just so long as I stick my fingers in my ears and hum?

And yet, I feel an insistent tap on my shoulder, and the urgent yanking of my fingers from my ears, and the Jesus of Bethlehem saying to me “Turn around, girl, and look.”

And there they are – all in my living room. People with less than me. And not just a little less – a LOT less. People in pain, people with no joy, no hope, people dependant on me for help. People who need me to see them and not turn my back. Brothers and sisters around the world who need me to acknowledge their existence.

So this year I’m going to rework the list, and I’m going to see if I can give a little hope, a little love, some health, some peace, some future to people who deserve it a lot more than I deserve a pair of platinum earrings. And when I do that, I just know I’m going to feel God’s approval that I’m finally getting into the spirit of Christmas.

This Christmas, I’d like to share with you an organization you might find worthy of your financial ‘Christmas cheer’. The Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is dedicated to the surgical repair of the victims of rape – a weapon being used throughout the DRC as an effective means to demoralize and destabilize a culture and society already torn apart by violence and poverty. Please have a look at the links below, and then you, like I, might like to rethink ‘The Christmas List’.

Merry Christmas – with love to you all,

K.E. Stapylton

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Something Beautiful

For those of you with access to iTunes who appreciate atmospheric, beautiful music, I'd like to suggest '1 Giant Leap - featuring Michael Stipe and Asha Bhosle' singing 'The Way You Dream'. It's for sale on iTunes and is in the genre best described as 'world music'. Here's part of the write up from IMDB on the project;

"1 Giant Leap is a unique project for the 21st century which fuses words, sounds, rhythms and images from across the globe to celebrate the creative diversity of musicians, storytellers, authors, filmmakers, artists and thinkers from cultures around the world. The results illustrate breathtaking artistic and cultural diversity with a clear message of unity running throughout."

While the entire cd is beautiful in general and awe-inspiring in parts, I'd recommend The Way You Dream as a true highlight; it's the sort of music you listen to when you wish to contemplate the imponderable mysteries of life - or perhaps just close your eyes to concentrate on a single, undiluted moment in time. Either way, it should be on every mature music lover's play list.


Yours Entertainingly,

K.E. Stapylton