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MORE STORIES...

Facing our difficult truths

True meaning of the season

Yielding to a higher self

Not seeing the forest or the trees

Coping with a computer crisis

Going under cover in Monaco

My miracle on Larvotto beach

If I can help somebody as I pass along

Taste of village life in Monaco

The Water's Edge: A fishy tale

Why I choose to be involved
"...I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up."
--Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Like Thoreau, I love the simple life. But while he  left a bustling city to move to the woods, I have taken the opposite route. I have given up life in a tiny town on the edge of the Canadian boreal forest for work that takes me to luxury-loving Monaco, the most densely populated nation in the world. Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days at Walden. I'm giving myself at least three years for this experiment.
--Celia Sankar


True meaning of the season

After long hours of grappling with year-end administrative work, I tore myself away from my keyboard, yesterday evening (Dec. 13), and headed to the Hotel de Paris, where Christmas trees decorated by the likes of Chanel and Escada were to be auctioned for charity. By the time I arrived, however, all lots had already been sold. Still, the ladies in their finery milled about in the lobby, and I caught the last embers of the Christmas cheer the evening had sparked among those who attended.

Next, I traipsed over to the Marriott in Cap d'Ail for the tail end of the Monaco-USA Association's Christmas cocktails. Tracy Mattes, the organizer of the event, had worked hard to decorate the room and bring everybody together. The highlight of the evening was seeing her taken completely by surprise when Michael Powers, Monaco-USA's president, had a cake with sparkling lights wheeled in and then led the gathering in singing happy birthday to her.

Temperatures outside were cool and I was wrapped in a thick wool coat as I walked home at the end of the evening. But the two events left me feeling warm and cheerful, as did the Christmas lights and yuletide shop decorations.

However, as I approached the bottom of the hill just past what most people would know as the Grand Prix tunnel exit, blue flashing lights portended a more somber spirit. These were not Christmas lights, but emergency ones. And yes, as I got nearer, the distraught yet brave faces of the firemen on the scene, the bits of strewn metal, the little moped without its rider and the severely dented car without its drivers told the tale of what was a doubly fatal accident.

I said then, and trust that as you read this you join me in saying, again, a prayer for the families of those who lost their lives in that spot last night. May they find strength and comfort at this time, perhaps the most difficult part of the year to have to face such a loss.

As I walked away from the scene, my feet felt leaden. My body felt as if it were made of lead. The air itself felt heavy.

The tragedy was a jolting reminder that we are not in control here. We may head organizations and be able to get staff to do as we command. We may head our families and be able to get everyone to fall into line. We may be able set goals and either scheme or work hard and honestly to bring them into being. But all of this is petty in the greater design of life.

Ultimately, control over our existence lies outside of our hands.

None of us knows on what day, at what hour, or under what circumstance we, too, will be called away from this world. And since we have not experienced death ourselves, none of us is in a position to say the afterlife does not exist.

As a Christian, by faith, I accept what the Bible says: that we are more than mere flesh; that it is God who breathes life into our beings; and that God's greatest desire is that we use our lives to serve Him, so, ultimately, we will be reunited with Him.

During this season, it is wonderful to savour the sights, sounds, and activities the season brings. But none of these things is the source of the greatest joy of this time. The season commemorates the birth of a baby boy in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. The reason for rejoicing is what the life and death of that child, Jesus, means for us today.

Again, as a Christian, I accept, by faith, that God sees all and knows all. Even if we have a secret we have never uttered to another human being, God knows it. From the time were born (and even before that), through our childhood, our adolescence, our young adult years and right up to one second ago, God has been present, hearing, seeing, knowing everything about every aspect of our lives.

God knows every ugly, wretched deed that was done against us—for which we may feel shame and guilt, but should not. And God knows every ugly, wretched deed we have committed against ourselves and against others—for which we should accept responsibility and ask forgiveness, but often do not.

Yet knowing full well of our wretchedness, God sees us as wonderful creatures, worthy of His love (setting the example of how we should love one another, as well). God deemed us worthy of the sacrifice of His Son, who became the way for us to be reunited with God.

All it takes to return to that union with God is surrendering to the truth—abandoning the delusion that we are in control and consciously allowing God control of our lives.

There is no greater gift can we give ourselves than aligning our lives to this truth. It is route to peace beyond our own comprehension, and to true joy.

This Christmas, I wish all of us a truly joyful season.


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Celia Sankar

SIMPLY MONACO
by Celia Sankar





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