Scrooge Visits Campus Woods

As I was waiting on Jonathon to join me, on his lunch hour, for a festive campus woods stroll..I noticed a couple of folks furtively doing something with the random Christmas ornaments that had been hung on the trees along the path. I have been walking the path for 42 years and for many of those years persons, unknown, have been decorating the trees along the paved walking route through the woods. Not long into December you will begin to see a Christmas ornament here and there and the lovingly decorated foliage adds tremendously to the holiday spirit of the woods travelers. Soon after Christmas the ornaments begin to disappear. There is one pine tree that is usually fully adorned with Christmas Tree decorations. Last year it was festooned with berries and popcorn. As Jonathon and I passed the two diligent workers the young lady glared at me with the focused gaze of one on a ‘Mission from God!’ We quickly discovered that their busy hands had been engaged in stripping all of the Christmas decorations. Out of all of the years that I have enjoyed the holiday splendor of the woods, I have never witnessed the abduction of all of the holiday regalia over two weeks prior to Christmas!

Now let me explain that I am. not a Forestry major…but I do drive a Subaru Forester… I am understanding enough to realize that perhaps there was a good reason for the ‘Grinch Who Stole Christmas!’ Perhaps there was a fear for the wildlife of the special Campus area? I can attest that I have been a regular observer and photographer of the annual Christmas Woods Christmas Decorations… and I have never witnessed either broken ornaments or evidence that the squirrels or deer were trying to consume the bright objects. I have witnessed for over 60 years…Christmas lights and ornaments adoring many live trees across my region and in many cities that I have visited. Speaking for myself…the annual random Christmas decorations at our Campus Woods have represented a spirit of hope and a better future for our planet. Especially in the year of our 2020 pandemic….the experiencing of the love and concern of the good people who took time to lift the spirits of their fellow human family…was a blessing to me…

On to more positive thoughts! Once again I had the distinct honor of delivering our church board’s gifts to our church staff. As a Personnel Elder I can think of no other duty, accept for our achieving a Covenant Pastorate for our Pastor, Kerry Bean in our First Presbyterian Church of Carbondale, that I enjoy more than the delivering of a Christmas gift to our precious church staff! Without our church staff…we would be lost…and their contribution to the uplifting of our congregation and the enrichment of our christian experience…is immeasurable!

I have been reflecting on the wonderful civil service staff at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. These dedicated people keep our University running and if it had not been for their dedication…we would have been closed…long ago! All to often they work and suffer in silence! Humble and dedicated professionals their hearts and lives are committed to the success of SIUC! Many of them, do to their low pay, qualify for food stamps. They not only have not received a pay raise in several years…they have not received a cost of living raise! They complain little and continue to take on more and more job duties…believing that University leaders will see their extreme toil and unparalleled dedication to the vision and the mission and the dream of former University President Dr. Delyte Morris…that they will be recognized for their total immersion into the educational experience of our University’s most precious citizens…our students…

It is 70 degrees today in Little Egypt. I am on the writing porch and the door to the house is open! Christmas Eve is 2 weeks from today! Santa’s elves are busily working… Hope and light are invading our hearts! We are going to emerge from our 2020 pandemic…and we will pay closer attention to what matters and the heart cords of human love and kindness…that make our lives have meaning…

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