Peace and joy, come to you

The sky is falling. At least our sky is falling, over our home, and within our family.

Health concerns of beloved family members have my husband and me scrambling to help. I used to think we had a modicum of control over our lives, over our "sky" if you will, but as we are placing metaphorical buckets under our dripping roof, I realize we are powerless in the face of certain life events. We can only react to these events and try our best to do right by our families and friends.

Certainly my husband and I are not alone. I understand that COVID is happening to all of us. That political unrest, racial injustice and personal intolerance are global issues. We can witness examples of these problems on our devices, from our sanitized homes and "safe" core contacts. Even if we have been personally affected by these movements, somehow it's possible to feel comforted by the knowledge that "we are all in this together."

But when the rain comes inside, when it is more personal and less global, it is terrifying. More like a tornado touching down than a steady downfall. And when many tornadoes happen at once, or in succession, it is exhausting. No matter how prepared we think we are, no matter how we have worked for control in our lives, we are faced with our own helplessness. We are in fact, not in control at all.

Yes, we are all in this together: we are just as vulnerable and powerless as everyone else. Life is in charge. Nature is in control.

Suddenly, a slight break in the clouds. The holidays. Celebrating beginnings or hope or birth. Renewal. When I take a deep breath and look around, I am comforted by the rituals and decorations, the sameness. I suppose the trappings lend an air of predictability. And deeper, again, the same thought: we are not in charge.

This is what religion is, I think. The belief that someone or something is bigger than us, smarter than us and is in control. Even when the buckets overflow, we can have faith that somehow the rainwater they contain will have purpose.

The anticipation of the holiday suddenly fills me with hope. Where once there was worry over details and wrappings and lists, now there is safety and comfort in the knowledge that we are celebrating something bigger than us. Generations of traditions, joyful songs, whispered hopes and fervent prayers, all floating through the years and rooted in the faith that some greater force exists. I feel peaceful when I recognize the meaning behind the holiday - an understanding that we are, indeed, not in control.

Wishing you comfort and peace for the holiday and in the new year.

- Kelly Abate Kallas of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].