Holidays are a funny, taxing time. No need to say that. Everybody knows that. Even the most devout Christians among us are strained by the commercial madness preceding the day of the 25th. The demands of what must be or should be haunt so many, pushing doubt, eroding worth to the point of submission.
During this time, my thoughts always turn towards those less fortunate. Those who are estranged from their own or are coming from behind; running on empty but still running on overdrive. Smoke rising from the engine, metal grinding on metal. No where to turn and escape seems hopeless.
They are the chosen ones. Weird to say that; those lost are the chosen ones, but it’s true. They are the ones whose voices must be heard. It is not easy but it is a requirement.
This is more than just thinking of others, which, granted, sometimes is not my best calling card. It is taking action on behalf of the chosen ones. Whether it be food, clothing, shelter, money or just being there, it is their time – not ours. They are the chosen ones.
As some of you know, when I was much younger – significantly younger – I was one of the chosen. Yep, I was running the streets of madness, fetching lower companions like a captain of industry.
It didn’t start that way. It started in the very lap of luxury. Pop, now dead for a few years, God rest his lovely soul, was an actor of fame and fortune. He provided an incredible upbringing for us; his three sons. We grew up in a luxurious enclave known as Rustic Canyon where the environment mirrored a private forest of creeks marked by swimming holes and million-dollar homes populated with millionaire eccentrics plying their trade in books, theater, and motion pictures, to name just a few of the professions.
Names like academy-award winner Lee Marvin; “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling; actor James Arness of “Gunsmoke” fame; among others, dotted the landscape. Even future president Ronald Reagan was hanging his celebrity hat nearby before becoming governor of this great state and then ultimately becoming the 40th President of these here United States.
To not put too fine a point on it: this was the mother of all beginnings.
Alas, I didn’t take advantage of this, or even grateful for the blessings reaped upon my undeserving soul. I was to enter the world of the chosen, whereby a doctorate in streetwise maneuvering was required in the daily diet to achieve survival. Talk about living by your wits. No joke here, because a miscalculation could cost you more than just a missed meal. Sidewalks were home and hand-outs a profession for 15 long-years.
That all changed in 1977 when a man of strong Catholic faith decided my life was worth saving and he lifted me out of the drunken, self-absorbed madness and placed me on the road to redemption. His faith was re-introduced by way of a sober God.
He never preached. He never pressed his Catholicism on me. He never pushed or pressured. He just quietly guided me to a better life. A life where I graduated from college with honors. Where I married – still am after 26 years – raised two great sons; one a recent graduate of California Lutheran University and the other a junior at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Where I attained a small measure of success in the newspaper business before entering public service.
His name was Will Campbell and I will be indebted to him forever.
So, my thoughts, prayers and actions are for the chosen ones. Those without and those alone. They’re worth their weight in gold for they raise us all to heights of spiritual peace and an abundance of joy.
May the blessing of a power greater than yourself, which I choose to call God, enter your life and introduce you to the possibility that hope is more than a swear word.
You are the chosen ones and you have chosen us to be there with you, and we are. No longer without. No longer alone. Together, we are safe. Together, we are sound. No question about it.