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Chaplains corner.

One of the great things about living in the San Francisco Bay area is that the roses outside my window at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System bloom until after New Years. Another is that I can wear a sweater to work in August and the same one in December. We all tolerate our weather; sometimes we get a black eye with an earthquake, hurricane or tornado, but we pick ourselves up and with the help of others know deep down that God will provide a new day. The holidays offer us that new day. Although we celebrate the holidays at the same time, we do it with different perspectives. This reminds me of the meaning of the feeling we as Disabled American Veterans have during the holidays. Whether we are celebrating the birth of Jesus, or remembering the nights the oil lamp remained tit at Hanukkah, fasting and giving charity during Ramadan, or just welcoming in the new year, these celebrations have special meaning for each of us.

What is it that allows us to celebrate the gift of the freedom to worship that our t God has given us? Why do we as Americans have so many different traditions? And what is it in our upbringing that allows us to respect the traditions of others so that they can celebrate their heritage and find no problem in Letting us celebrate ours?

The American tradition of tolerance did not take place without struggle. Nor did it take place without the suffering and blood of those we call Disabled American Veterans. Out of many traditions we celebrate our tolerance and acknowledge the simple truth: if I am to be truly free then my neighbor must also be free.

The roses in the Veterans Memorial Garden outside my chapel window are still blooming. There are red, white, purple, orange, and pink roses. There are small ones, medium, and large plants, over 200 plants with 40 different varieties. All living in the garden struggling for their share of the water and plant food, sun, and rain that God provides. As we go to our parties and religious services this season think about the freedom we have to celebrate and sing our God's praises. As a Christian I love getting in touch with old friends at Christmas and gathering for a feast with family at Thanksgiving. The Rabbi talks about potato pancakes, the Imam about giving gifts, and ever an agnostic friend declaring that he really likes the colored lights. Even our brothers and sisters fighting for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan will take special moments and celebrate with faith in God's love and purpose.

As your new DAV Chaplain may I pray for you and yours that God will speak to you during these days of celebration. I pray that you may hear and listen to the sounds and feel the joy and excitement that come to a people of faith. May God be with you and may you truly feel God's love and grace in this holy season. Amen.

Reverend Edward Bastille Notional Chaplain
COPYRIGHT 2005 Disabled American Veterans
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Author:Bastille, Edward
Publication:DAV Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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