A TIME AND A WALK TO REMEMBER: A Holiday Tribute to my Mom: By: James Robert Kessler c2008 INTRODUCTION: To everything there is a season

, A time for every purpose under heaven: Ecc 3:1 Christmas is both a time of reflection and expectation. Using the words and wisdom of King Solomon, this Christmas season I wanted to share a brief holiday story about my mom. As believer’s in Christ, we are called to encourage and inspire others through the gifts that each of us have received. I have crafted my short story around Ecclesiastes chapter three verse’s one through twelve. I draw my inspiration from the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus is quoted as saying that he was born so that we may have a life that is abundant in its meaning and purpose. Spiritually speaking, abundance doesn’t mean material things but concerns itself with the nourishment of the spirit. Understanding this is where wisdom begins. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 I don’t believe there is a more beautiful verse in all of Scripture than John 10:10. First we must define who or more appropriately, what that "thief" really is today. Today meaning the age of grace found in the symbolic meaning of the cross and the resurrection which proclaimed the victorious Christ. The thieves we battle are not angelic demon creatures but words described as hopelessness, despair, heartache, pain and strife. These are the things that steal and destroy lives because they leave a void in our souls where hope once dwelled. To be fully human is to experience the joy and happiness along with the pain and suffering at times as well. They are essential to each other and ultimately define the real and total human experience. The gospel record of Jesus Christ confirms this ultimate truth. Think about these "life" words of Jesus this holiday season. The meaning of "the Christ," especially during the holiday season isn’t found in the presents we give or receive. The message Christ came to share was through the very example of his own life. That example was acceptance and reconciliation through extraordinary sacrifice. This is what we are to aspire to as well. Sacrificial love gives meaning to our own existence because it imparts life to others in its unselfishness. That is when you discover your full potential as a human being because of the illustration of this abundant life Jesus painted and has displayed for the whole world to partake in its profound and undeniable truth. ******************************

A Time and a Walk to Remember **A Holiday Tribute to my Mom** To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Ecc 3:1 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; Ecc3:2 The winter of nineteen sixty-nine was one that marked an ending. An ending of a decade that was unmerciful in its defining of new change as America had just experienced the birthing pangs of another cultural revolution. There was political violence, drug experimenting and our shores were invaded by British Beatles of the musical kind. Charles Manson brought us Helter Skelter while mankind had just set foot on another world other than our own. On a cool summer evening several months before, I remember standing on our front porch and staring up at the moon thinking someone was walking around up there. From an eight year olds perspective, that moon really didn’t seem that far away anyhow. So just how special could men flying there really be when it seemed it just hung up there in the sky? A Wishbook, Old Crooner’s and the Sound of Music; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; Ecc 3:3 That summer turned into fall and the time when we would get our huge Sear’s winter catalog in the mail. Christmas couldn’t be that far away when that event occurred. The adults could have their moon trip because that giant wishbook held much more treasure than a few moon rocks could hold. I could now begin circling all the toys in that book that I wanted for Christmas. That catalog was our black Friday and marked the official beginning of the holiday season in our home. At that time I was competing against five other siblings for first "dibs" on shopping in its pages. Being from a large family getting to be the first to circle your choices and put your name in that circle was a big deal. You snooze you lose or at least it was mine because I always seemed to say it. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecc 3:4 This time of year also meant another family tradition that was just plain embarrassing. My dad had figured out a way to rig up our old phonograph player and run some speaker wires to the porch outside to entertain the neighborhood with some festive holiday music. His favorite singer was Bing Crosby and his White Christmas album. That was also about the time my dad started smoking a pipe. Go figure! In the imagination of an eight-year-old boy, I guess it was a time our neighbors laughed at us, a time when I could have wept and mourned as well. Yet thinking back to that time, all that really mattered to me were those visions of sugar plums that danced in our heads from Clement Moore’s, "The Night before Christmas" poem. Come to think of it, just what were sugar plums anyway and why were they dancing? And did I also mention his second favorite album on his holiday play list was Christmas with the Chipmunks that always seemed to skip endlessly until someone gave it a little nudge? Now can you feel my pain? A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; Ecc 3:5

Being the oldest of all my brothers and sisters, I felt that I really should get all the attention. Yet it never seemed that way because there where so many distractions in our household. Did I mention those five siblings of mine? You just had to take a number to get any attention at all. My mom did a pretty good job keeping chaos to a minimum and she was always there when we needed anything. Hey, as long as she would acknowledged my signed circles in that Sear’s catalog with a hug of approval, I was content as I can possibly be for a boy who was about to experience his eighth Christmas. Come to think of it, I always wondered why that big catalog was called a "wishbook" when I ended up getting every circle I usually signed for in it. Hey , things were less expensive back then you know! A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; Ecc 3:6 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; Ecc 3:7 The Twelve Days of Christmas, Turmoil and Hoola Hoops; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecc 3:8 The winter of nineteen sixty-nine was a cold one in Southwestern Pennsylvania. America was at war in Asia and racial tensions in America was high. Great men had died since the year I was born and both good and evil flickered in black and white images out of our old nineteen inch television set. When you are eight years old, social and economic problems, political assassinations or Woodstock aren’t high on your list of worries. What was important was the annual December countdown to Christmas eve and will we have a white Christmas. That was all I thought about. Oh yea, and of course that giant, six hundred page Sear’s winter catalog of seemingly endless toys and games. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth? Ecc 3:9 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. Ecc 3:10 What’s so funny thinking back, I never really knew what my dad did for a living but I assumed he made enough money to cover all those circles I made in that special catalog from Sear’s. The best thing was that when he was at work he couldn’t pipe that out dated old Christmas music or annoying Chipmunk squealing out into our neighborhood streets. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about getting teased when I went to school or walked to the store for anything. The ironic thing was since I was the oldest he put me in charge of plugging that old phonograph in at twelve noon when he wasn’t home. Luckily for our neighbors, it’s hard to always remember things or tell time for that matter, when you are eight years old. Besides, talk about police brutality, where were the cops when you needed that disturbing the peace warning? That might of made my dad stop his annual embarrassing outdoor Christmas concert of the chipmunks, "me I want a hoooola hoop," of noise. Christmas Eve, George Bailey and a Time and Walk to Remember; He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in

their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecc 3:11 When you are a little boy I guess no one is as pretty as your mother. She always smelled nice and our house always had that fresh baked smell of something to it. I felt she spoiled all of us and I know she sacrificed much on our behalf. I always seemed to take that for granted until I got older and realized not all mothers carried this unselfish trait. My mother was not only beautiful in her time but she was also beautiful in all my time I shared with her as well. This brings me to the title of this piece, "A Time and a Walk to Remember." Christmas eve had finally arrived and knowing that Sear’s catalog would soon no longer be just a wishbook was pretty darn exciting. I remember looking out our dining room window watching the big snowflakes falling when my mother came in and asked me if I wanted to take a walk with her. She said she wanted to walk to town to get a few things before Christmas the next day. Our walk downtown wasn’t really a long one but dusk was descending upon us and the snow falling pretty heavily by this time. This was quite an exciting adventure for an eight-year old boy even with his mom tagging along with him. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life Ecc 3:12 Our first stop in town was a little drug store called, Burn’s Drug. It was an old fashioned, it’s a wonderful life type of drug store. The pharmacist even looked like old man Mr. Gower. You know the one George Bailey worked for as a young boy. And inside Burn’s drug store was a diner with the booths and spinning stool’s that looked like it was straight out of an nineteen fifties soda pop shop. She asked me if I wanted a coke and a hamburger and of course, who is going to turn that offer down especially when french fries always accompanied that order. I soon come to find out she didn’t really need anything that Christmas eve in town. She told me she just wanted to spend some time alone with me away from my brothers and sisters. At first I thought I was in some trouble for making so many circles with my initials in that wishbook but that turned out not to be the case. When you are eight years old, you never realize that one of life’s greatest gifts isn’t spending time with your mom. I now know just how special that time was in that moment and how precious our short walk had become so immortalized in my memory. I don’t remember much of our conversation that Christmas eve sitting in that little red booth. I do remember her asking me if I would help her hang some last minute decorations up when we got home. At the time I figured that’s what this hamburger and french fries were all about. She just needed my help and this was my payment. We finished eating and made our way back out into the cold winter night for our return trip home. The snow had stopped and I can remember how the moon lit up the fleshly fallen snow as we made our way through it. You know the kind of snow that has those sparkles all through it because of the extreme cold. She reached out and held my hand and there seemed to be no one else or anything in all the world that mattered to me more than my mom on that Christmas eve. Not even all those circles with my name in them that I claimed in that Sear’s catalog or Santa Claus himself! Shadows, Reflections and a Time for Everything under the Sun;

For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun? Ecc 6:12 Life and time do pass us by like so many shadows and the circle of life continues on into the next generation. The only thing that truly remains is those memories that sometimes get frozen or hidden away in our mind to be remembered another day. Memories that patiently wait until we are mature enough to fully understand them, I guess. It’s funny or more so ironic, what each of us individually remembers or forget over the course of our lifetime. Of all the memories I have of my mom, the Christmas eve of nineteen sixty-nine is the one I cherish and re-live the most. She, my mom remembered me that day. Not that she ever forgot me but because I felt special when she held my hand as we walked home that night. Not because she thought I would get lost but because she just simply loved me. Men were now walking on the moon and a new decade was soon to begin. There is a time for everything and usually that time is now, in the present moment. Here is the wisdom that dusty old memories teach us even when we are eight years old. Live each moment as though you have lived it before and in doing so try not to miss the blessings that often go unnoticed. If I had done that on that Christmas eve, I would have held her hand a little tighter, hugged her a little tighter and wouldn’t have wiped that kiss from my cheek she gave me as we returned home. A time to be born, and a time to die; Ecc3:2 (a) Embrace every shadow or now moment life has to offer you. For they only appear once and when they are gone, they are gone forever. Unless you share them with another then they will never die. Suffering, sickness and heartache is an unavoidable but essential part of our lives. It’s all part of life that makes us fully functioning human beings. By sharing my long ago memory of my eighth Christmas eve, my mom is still part of my reality. Although her name is now chiseled in stone, it will always be engraved on my heart and in my thoughts forever. Engraved in the form of a walk we shared together on an Christmas eve forty years ago. By remembering that Christmas past in this present moment, she has become immortal through my written words which can never be erased even by the passing of time. For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Ecc 6:12 Time is an elusive, shadowily thing and life is as vain and fleeting as the day is long. And at the end of each of our journeys, love is truly all that remains. It is the one constant that holds all things together. To embrace our mortality is the first step in fully appreciating the eternity that lives in every moment both seen and unseen. What lies beyond these moments we call time is as individual as it is mysterious. These past few day’s I was eight years old and walking home in the snow with my mom all over again. The moral of my lament is that life is simply nothing more than only a wishbook if you let it pass you by. Begin today with a mental wishbook or bucket list of things you would like to do that will not only give your life purpose but most importantly, make someone else’s life better because of you. Then in your mind, circle the works, the deeds, and the relationships that you wish to engage or interact with sacrificially without reward. By doing these simple things in love,

life takes on meaning and purpose. And finally, embrace these now moments and every wish you circled for your own life and the lives of others. By realistically defining your own meaning and expectations you control your own destiny . So enjoy this walk called life for every path will be different but all of them are necessary in their purpose, meaning and ultimately rewards. James Robert Kessler Because of Him Art Ministry 2008 Www.InChristVictorious.com