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Building Bridges by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante  

Peace on Earth

A call to love one another

by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante

Natalie is a 94-year-old woman who lives in a nursing home close to where I live. She has very poor eyesight to the point where her glasses do not help her much anymore. Her white hair falls softly onto her shoulders and she wears cozy sweaters and blankets whenever I see her, regardless of the weather outside. During our visits I often bring one of my children, and her smile lights up the room when I do. “Hello little boy!” she calls out when we arrive. She lets them feed Ginger the cat whenever they ask. We sit together, pray together and chat about the weather and our families. Some days, she is tired or sick. There have been times when she has been sad.

My favourite conversations are about what she has learned as a mother over the years. “Children always want to know that you are there, even if they think they don’t, and even when they say they don’t,” she told me one day.

She lived through the Second World War and has told me what it was like growing up in Winnipeg during that time. Natalie has never used the Internet or e-mailed anyone, nor does she watch reality TV or care about the latest must-have purse. “I don’t need much!” she tells me often. Her days are peaceful and simple, while mine are hectic, sometimes stressful, and always “go-go-go.” I often marvel at how different we are, yet our visits are never silent, are usually cheerful, at times have been tearful, but have always been a joy.

A force greater than the both of us brought us together. Natalie is my friend. She is my inspiration to think about what it truly means to love thy neighbour.

There is a lot going on in our world right now, particularly the refugee crisis and acts of terrorism in other countries. It is natural to feel helpless and experience strong emotions such as sadness and anger. We often say, “What can I do?” or “I am only one person.” It is sometimes easier to put such tragedy out of our minds than think about it for too long. We are hearing a lot of strong opinions in the media.

During this time of reflection of what “Peace on Earth” and “Good will towards others” truly means, we are called to consider the struggles of other people and to realize that we do indeed have power to facilitate change in our world.

  • Keep those who are suffering, grieving, alone, lost, and ill in your thoughts and prayers. Mourn and identify with the situation of another. Contrary to what some might say, wishing good for another is not passive or pointless. It is a powerful intention that leads to more good deeds, humbles us and leads us to more appreciation of what we have. Sooner or later, each and every single one of us will be in need of compassion and assistance from another.
  • Be careful of prejudice, hatred and the spread of irrational fear. Those who discriminate and judge never have truthful facts to support their message. Fear is used to keep people apart, and prevents us from truly seeing each other. There are a lot of messages of intolerance circulating on social media channels. Every time we refuse to spread messages of hate and educate others instead, we contribute to peace. If you look for the good in others, you will find it.
  • Connect with others. The season is an opportune time to send a card or e-mail, call, or visit a loved one, especially if you haven’t spoken in a while. Gifts are usually a part of Christmas but should not be the main focus. Emphasize having a great experience together, rather than gift giving.
  • Pay it forward. If you have been the beneficiary of someone’s act of good will, take your turn and be kind. This will renew people’s faith that humans are good and generous. Acts of good will can easily be done by donating to the poor and needy, either with money or with your time.

One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned from my friendship with Natalie is that humans are more alike than different. Everyone wants to belong. Everyone falls in love. Everyone experiences delight. Everyone feels pain. Realizing and remembering this truth will bring us closer to peace among humankind.

This Christmas season, I wish you and yours a joyful time of togetherness, reflection and good will towards others.

Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is the founder of Nexus Counselling and a licensed therapist with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. She is a proud member of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council and a provider for the Blue Cross Employee Assistance Program. Cheryl has experience helping clients with issues such as grief, depression, relationship difficulties, parenting, aging and illness. She can be reached at (204) 297-6744 or info@nexuscounselling.com.