‘Twas the night before Christmas and I sat in my chair.

I thought about the blessings and all those who care.

I realized that Bakersfield is a great place to live,

the history, the people with big hearts that give.

I’ve been blessed to travel and see the world sights,

but there is something about coming home to the Bakersfield lights.

We have our own issues, homeless and poor,

but the blessings we see are much, much more.

The caring, the giving, the joy and the love;

remind me of the blessings that come from above.

Whether Christian or Sheik, Muslim or Jew,

together we celebrate all that is true.

We’re diverse, complex, a true community,

and our goal should be to live in peace and unity.

I am also grateful for those who serve the great USA

and pray that they stay safe this Christmas day.

I am grateful for this special town, oil, farming, Merle and Buck.

I call them blessings, I don’t call them luck.

This season, when you gather with family and friends,

give thanks for your blessings, then count them again.

As a Catholic priest, I realize that the seasons are difficult for many people. We remember loved ones we have lost and trials we have been through, but I find the greatest way to deal with pain and loss is to count your blessings. We are blessed to live in a community where people are generous and kind.

We still have some of the same issues that we see in our world. We have violence, poverty, homelessness, and economic struggles, but we also have the ability to make a difference.

Remember, there is more good than bad, more compassion than violence and more love than hate, just look at all the good people in Bakersfield and it will remind you of the hope that we need.

This holiday season, take a moment to thank those who serve us in law enforcement, the fire department, the civil servants, the teachers, the coaches, the doctors, nurses and all the people who serve our community.

Take time to look a homeless person in the eyes and give them the dignity they deserve. Visit someone sick. Share something of what you have. Make this a time to become the best version of yourself. Become less critical, judgmental and prejudice and in turn see the creator in every living thing. 

Our world is a wonderful place to live and we have the potential to bring peace into this world, but it begins in our own heart and in our home. Then and only then can we make this world a better place. Simple acts of kindness, a smile, a kind word, these simple things can set off a chain reaction to bring light into the darkness, peace into the chaos and JOY to the world. 

Merry Christmas Bakersfield and a Happy New Year!

 

Msgr. Craig Harrison is the pastor at St. Francis Church. 

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