NORMAN — A few months ago, my in-laws came by the house to visit for a while. Being distracted by the everyday business of life, my wife and I just sat down and started talking. I am not even sure about what. Perhaps it was gossip about current politics or the latest family dilemma. Time has caused me to forget.
But while we’re sitting there, my youngest daughter, who was 5 at the time, got a soda out of the refrigerator and brought one to her grandma. She said, “Here you go, Grandma,” inquiring if she was thirsty.
Her grandma smiled and took the drink from her little hands and sat it down. My wife and I just looked at each other, for we knew we had forgotten the general hospitality that should be given to the visitor. My 5-year-old remembered, and thankfully she had seen enough in her life to know what to do when someone comes calling.
For all of us who live in community, there was a time when such acts of care, respect and hospitality permeated our conversations and actions.
I can remember as a child staying with my grandmother, that every time a visitor came by the house, the first question out of her mouth, sometimes in our native Muskogean language and sometimes in English, was “Are you hungry?” She would rush to the kitchen to pull something together or to put on a fresh pot of coffee to offer the visitor.
It dawned on me while seeing my daughter do the same, that sometimes we have to remember, for we forget the most simple acts of kindness. We have to remember how to live together. We have to remember that our actions demonstrate our mutual respect between each other.
We have to remember that life can be hard and we should not make it more difficult for the friend or stranger. We have to remember how to give — not just money and resources — but ourselves. We have to remember to love — love with no ends — until we become vulnerable.
This time of year during the holiday season, we are continually recounting all the memories of this sacred occasion. Memories of times with loved ones who are no longer with us, memories of times that made us laugh until our sides hurt flow through our consciousness. So, too, must we remember the fabric of life that has kept us stitched together for centuries, and that is love and respect.
The time has come where we cannot simply say “I love my family and neighbors,” but rather we must live a life that shows that we love our family and neighbors. And the time has come when we must show that love and respect for the neighbor, even if he or she speaks another language or even if he or she celebrates different holy days than us. We must remember.
For those who are in the Christian faith, this time of year calls us to remember what the one we have come to call the Son of God means. It reminds us of how for many of this world, he was a light in the midst of darkness. He was hope during a time of hopelessness. So, too, are we to be for the world. We must lose our own lives in order to find them. Whatever you do, where you go this time of year, remember.