I was preparing to write this column when I learned that South African leader Nelson Mandela had died.
All deaths have special significance to the families and friends who knew and loved the person who has passed on. But in this life, it is a rare thing indeed to be in the presence of a person of worldwide prominence. I can say that I have been in the presence of such a man: Nelson Mandela.
It was in 1990 at Big Bethel Church. My late cousin was a member of this church and invited me to attend with her. I had an opportunity to see and hear Mandela. And later that same evening my son and I went to hear Mandela speak on the campus of Georgia Tech.
Here was a man who focused his life on love and peace. He focused on making the world a better place.
That gives us even more to think about in December 2013.
There are many truths about December. Much of the month is focused on the holiday season: trimming the tree, gathering with family and friends, food and fellowship, the birthday of the baby Jesus.
But by the end of the month some people start to think about the coming year. They think about all of the lost hopes of the past year: the weight they never got around to losing, the love that got away, the job they might have been laid off from, the bills that never got paid.
And yet many remain grateful for the good things that the past year did bring them. They resolve to make the next year better, more productive and more focused on enriching the lives of others.
My husband gave me Native American parable on a card. It read like this. "A boy was talking with his grandfather. ‘What do you think about the world situation?’ he asked. His grandfather replied...’I feel like wolves are fighting in my heart. One is full of anger and hatred; the other is full of love, forgiveness and peace.’ ‘Which one will win?’ asked the boy. To which the grandfather replied, ‘The one I feed.’’’
I hope all of us have the ability to increase our capacity to love. To some, that capacity might be a surprise. But it could be there, just waiting to surface. After all, what is a heart for? An old song said, "The heart is a house for love."
In December, it seems to hit us like bolt of lightning. It can strike at any time. Take a walk in our town square to see Covington’s beautiful Christmas lights. Go with your family; take your time so that you can take in all the charm. This is no doubt "feeding the right wolf" within.
But we should all remember, as we feel the warmth of our fireplaces or our snuggly winter coats, that not everyone is as well off as we are. December is a month to practice doing for others if it is possible for you to do so.
In my past profession, I served as volunteer coordinator for several non-profit organizations. In December, my time was consumed looking for volunteers to provide many services to the communities I served.
It isn’t always about money; sometimes it means giving your time and a special smile to someone in desperate need of love.
Heavens knows life can be difficult and hard to manage. But December is the perfect time for all of us to concentrate on learning to feed the right wolf.
Dorothy Frazier Piedrahita welcomes reader comments. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.