OP-ED | Let us find some joy in the world with peace in our hearts

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By GHK Lall

A child is born and a great freshness stirs. A star gleams with its light touching many everywhere. Tis a season of soft caroling, rising chorus of voices praising the divine for his saving graces. We need those, all of them.

It has been a long, tough year for many Guyanese. In a land blessed with such an abundance of rich gifts, it is troubling that I see yearning on some faces, emptiness on others, and the misery of those short, and chronically without. Still, there is the joy driven by faith that guides to hold head high and carry along with dignity. The holidays are here. The divine is with us.

In a time of touching traditions and great sacred texts coming to life, there is this environment of a thousand cuts that must be confronted and managed graciously. A little holiday cheer would help. How we need a holiday from the deceits of men that flare, sometimes dangerously, so close we come to electrocuting, ruining ourselves. We need some peace, a little thought of the less caustic, the gentle so extinct here, the calming so much absent from these shores nowadays. But, if I must take one day above all others, then I’ll take Christmas Day. For me, there is no other, so much embedded. It is not merely a day, but a state of mind, urging onward in soaring spirit. Don’t ask why or how, for I myself really don’t know, and I sense that fellow citizens also don’t, which is good enough for us, to leave the mystery alone.


The sum of all this is best held in hands clasped together, as if in fervent prayer, whether unconsciously or imploringly, in these few simple scripturally influenced words from long ago, and from song saying so much: ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight’ (Mt 2:7; Zep 3:14-20).Perhaps, that is why some of us think and write so much, share our soul. There flares that eternal flame of hope, despite the dimness of the dull that bring despair, which sometimes is mostly in ourselves. I remember always that star that shines above, which reminds me to confront the enemy, only to discover that it is me.

This prompts more thinking, sharing, and the feeling, those human fears. Of what could be, but is not; of the poorly settled nature of things, the piercings they bring. So little left for those unable to stand on their own, fend for themselves. Yet there is that rushing instinct of the spirit, with belief and will never subdued. As John Henry Newman wrote in majestic verse: “Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on; the night is dark, and I am far from home, lead thou me on.” Nothing can stop me now. The thrill of the season, the joy of it all,even when nothing comes, none turns towards.

In this hour of goodwill, those fears trouble the downtrodden. Those stranded far behind, left to wander off by themselves, because they have either been forgotten or they don’t count, though they are there, visible and known. So, we probe, write some more. Of what should be and could be. Lone voices crying in the wilderness. Listen, take heed, respond, revisit, restart, rebuild. If only to restore some connection to the nobler things in life. Like faith. Maybe decency. What it means to be trustworthy, someone of authenticity and integrity. These are some of the simple, yet profound, things that the man from Galilee instilled in audiences then and now. They resonate with us and make those lacking grace and God beat hasty retreat, scrounge for shelter under any fig leaf that they can find to cover their nakedness. Indeed, amid the bright lights, artificial cheer, there is this dark grimness that would not give up, not go away.

Saints and sages throughout the ages have had to deal with the darkness of their eras. Where there is darkness, there are those men-powerful and perverse, a little unhinged in the head, unsteady in the soul-who thrive in its shadows, celebrate thick, impenetrable darkness. I present Herod, a tortured and troubled man, if ever there was one. We have many like him in Guyana. They feast on cream and, like bats in the night forest, will gnaw on the toes, drain the blood, if one were not vigilant.

Regardless, we must persevere on our skimpy rations, our torn threads, the meagerness of ourselves. A loaf or two would be a rich treat and cause for great thanksgiving, a slice would be welcome and just have to do. Oh come, Emmanuel, come find us, and rescue us. God preserve us. This is the light many see. In this season of serenity, there is so much godliness all about. Don’t make the mistake of looking around, about, or across. Godliness wouldn’t be found in earthy princes, or whatever they call them here today. Look above, peer beyond the canopy of the sky. There it is.

There is Christmas and Kwanzaa and Hannukah. It may be internal, an abstraction to some, but it is what we have. And of that, not one soul can claim as their own. It is because this extraordinary treasure belongs to me and you, and of this no one, not one, can take away for themselves. Amid the noise and glitter, there is this hushed stillness that is the essence of the peace of the season. It is this little oasis of calm that many desire, but which eludes their clutches. This one is priceless, and all the gold in the world lose their glow, have no pull. It is neither science nor symphony, simply the leaven of belief, and the faith that follows. God will provide. He, didn’t he?

Happy holidays, my fellow Guyanese, brethren all. Let us find some joy in the world with peace in our hearts. May there be much goodness reserved there too. Salvation comes.

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