My beloved and I were having lunch at our favorite restaurant, eating our favorite dishes—he his, and I mine. When we are together, the world’s troubles fade far into the background. Love provides a space of bliss and grace that brings us a welcome Sabbath from the blood and tears, the suffering and premature death caused by human stupidity and will-to-power. It is amazing how this space, this clarity, this divine light can exist in this world as a gift of love, and we are happy and thankful.
Then a telephone rings. I resist the sound. It rings again. No resistance is possible. I blink, and I am back in my own dark bedroom. The telephone rings again. I feel for my glasses and put them on. The clock-radio says 2:34 a.m. I pick up the phone. The caller I.D. says Santa.
“Santa,” I say through the fog of sleep.
“I woke you,” he says, sounding cheerful and excited. “You told me to call anytime.”
“I remember.” I turn on my light and sit up, reaching for a sweater.
“Did you see that 12/12/12 concert?” Santa is almost beside himself. “What a line-up! What a show!”
“I did see it.” I do not say that I wanted to see more women performing. I wish Whoopi Goldberg had done some stand-up.
“This kind of effort is the reason why I can never lose hope in humankind. It proves that my faith in humanity is not misplaced,” Santa says. “Bruce Springsteen singing about hope, solidarity and resilience. Wow.” Then Santa did his impression of Springsteen singing: “meet me in the land of hope and dreams.”
As he continued to share his favorite moments from the concert, I remember the wisdom that stayed with me. “Fear builds walls. Live while I’m alive. It’s got to get better in a little while. Celebrate life, celebrate love. Who are you? Some of us never learn the true answer to this question. If you love someone tonight, hold on real tight.” Sir Paul McCartney, the consummate troubadour, sings of the assurance that sunshine will follow the rain according to “this love of mine, my valentine.”
My attention turns back to Santa. “We heard it all in the workshop. Also, it was right to recognize all the ordinary people who are doing extraordinary work to help their friends, neighbors, even strangers. This is what radical love looks like.
“But enough about the concert,” he says seriously, getting down to the reason for his call. “I want you to write something about Toys for Tots and its efforts to get toys this holiday season to children affected by Hurricane Sandy. It is taking donations at their web site, and Build-a Bear Workshops is asking its customers to give a dollar or more over their total purchase that will go to Toys for Tots.”
“Ok,” I say as I reach for a pen and paper.
“The children need something soft and warm to hold onto, “Santa says with all seriousness. “Can you imagine what these children must be going through? Life is difficult enough. It is scary and uncertain for adults, but for a child, it is even more unsettling. One day everything is fine, and the next day your house is gone; your neighborhood is gone. It is disorienting.”
“I can only try to imagine it.”
“The other efforts to help Sandy survivors are good and necessary. People need to give to help the rebuilding work. And it may seem that giving a child a cuddly toy is not at the top of the list, but it should be. We do not know what kind of post traumatic stress these children will suffer. We do not know the long term effects,” Santa says.
“I will certainly do my best,” I say.
“Well, that is all I ask. Now get back to sleep. I’ll talk with you later.”
When the conversation ends, I turn off my light and try to go back to sleep. A trace of the beauty, bliss and divinity of my dream had come with me into the waking world. The trace was imperceptible to sight, sound, taste, and touch. Yet, my desire recognized it and held it for an all too brief, fleeting, ephemeral moment. But it was gone.
So I started to write this, a different but no less true offering, a gift from love to me.