It’s always nice to see old friends and ‘tis the season to play catch up as the clock strikes the holidays, but lately it seems I’m always at a loss for words when tasked with the standard, “So, what’s been going on with you?” I mean, I’m no slacker – my list of accomplishments that I will make on Dec. 31st will prove that – but I curiously draw a blank when asked to fill someone in on my life. I don’t have a spouse or kids to talk about and while I love my nieces and nephew, I really have no desire to tell you how they’re doing. I currently don’t even have a love life to catch you up on (although spousal updates rarely sound like a love life, come on)! To top that off, when you really get down to it my work is satisfying – there’s not much to complain or crow about.
While it could very well be that because I am content I don’t have much to say when asked, I think deep down the reason for my reticence is more likely the fact that I know you don’t really care and I am sadly, most of the time, absolutely 100% OK with that. It takes a lot of energy for me to put into words the things that are important to me. The answer to what’s been up with me can’t be cataloged for easy conversation. So, I’ll just say not much, ask you the dreaded question and let you move on with your business after your short, well-rehearsed answer like I’m sure you’re relieved to do.
But every once in a while a soul shines bright in the darkness of busyness and obligation. Every now and then when someone says, “So what’s been going on with you?” they stop what they’re doing and listen. Their eyes light up with interest and when you say, “nothing much,” they don’t jump in with their own memorized answer – they wait until you are uncomfortable enough that you give voice to the truth. You start to share and then without realizing what has happened you begin to hear your own story. A light bulb floats above your head and you are suddenly filled with the feeling that you do have a life and that it matters to someone.
That’s what holiday (actually all) encounters should be about. This holiday season, vow with me to be a light in the darkness, to avoid the pitfalls of shallow conversation and the trivialities of small talk that keep people entombed in the bubble of their own little worlds. I invite you to ask someone, “So, what’s been going on with you?” and let the light of your soul show through your kind eyes and the gift of your time. In that way, maybe we can all be like the star of Bethlehem that led the wise ones to our savior. Maybe we can all be a gift of illumination, because when we let the genuineness of our spirit break through the barriers that modern society constructs, we are Christ for one another…the only gift that matters.