Tea for two

A picture of hope

Christmas is supposed to be a season of hope, whether you think about it in the Christian sense — away in a manger, the little Lord Jesus, and all that — or in the context of the pagan rituals that predated Christ. Unfortunately, the misery and strife that beset so many in so many places make it easy to forget that. A picture in this morning's Los Angeles Times, however, offered a powerful antidote, leaving me nearly dumbstruck.

tea in Iraq
MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT: Marine Col. Larry Nicholson hands out candy to children in Nasser Wa Salam, a Shiite enclave in Sunni-dominated Al Anbar province. (Photo and caption: LA Times)

In the "all about us" way that too many Americans have, the caption (above) focused on the American soldiers giving candy to Iraqi children. All well and good, isn't that sweet! What drew my attention, however, were the two youths standing at the back with trays of tea. Since few young men in Iraq go for a walk carrying a tray of tea, I suppose, I have to believe they had come to offer tea to the soldiers.

Amidst the violence and chaos that are Iraq, we see people reaching out to others in simple acts of human kindness. To me, that captures the spirit of the season and offers hope that this, too, shall pass.

Indeed, in all conflicts, great or small, differences seem to shrink to insignificance when the people involved know each other as people. In the end, that may be the hope of the world.

Merry Christmas! Peace!