This year Hanukkah kicks off on Christmas Eve, which brings me to a question I frequently ask myself on converging holidays: How are we all alike what are our common threads? How do I fit into these varied circumstances? It is a topic that I have encountered throughout my life in many situations and settings since childhood.
I am an ex-Catholic, confirmed in the Episcopal Church, and a sometimes-go-to-church guy. When I do attend, it's when the church is typically empty and not during a service.
As founder of Less Cancer, I often hear from people who ask for prayers for themselves or their loved ones. Though the organization's work is in education and policy, as someone in my particular role I do pray. Sometimes I don't even know what I might be asking for as cancer has the potential to blow up the lives of patients, caregivers, families, and communities of all colors, all faiths, genders, sexuality, and cultures. Less Cancer is not the kind of work that takes time off. Every second of the day and night people are dealing with cancer and many times I hear about it.
My church experience involves me finding a quiet corner. I sit in the hush of stone and wood, moving from a peaceful, meditative state to prayer. I start to mentally unfold a list of requests including those I know first hand and those that might come to my attention through social media or another on or offline media source.
In my work, we reach a large targeted global and diverse audience with many, many flavors of humanity. For me, it's important to care and connect with our fellow man, and it is this time of year that reminds me of the importance of staying connected to those that may appear to be different than myself.
Though I am not a religious person per se, I do hope that I can treat my fellow man with love and respect. As I meditate, pray and send thoughts of love to those in need, I understand from my small place in the sanctuary; I am praying not for some but rather for all. I work to advocate and help those who are not like me; I understand that all people suffer and they too need love. Often I pray that those facing these situations around cancer can find the strength to be the best leaders for themselves, family and friends.
Maybe this holiday season, the greatest gift we can give each other is to honor others' traditions and ideas.
In the spirit of Christmas no matter what holiday you will be celebrating --reaching for a higher understanding of all our gifts as individuals, and accepting ourselves and others for those differences.
You don't need to trade in your religion, traditions and or holiday to love and respect your fellow man.
This Christmas I ask of myself and others for a deeper, greater understanding of what we don't know and to respond in love and respect, and with peace and joy in our hearts for all.