Mass on Christmas Eve has always been special for me, attending church with either parts of my, or my entire, family. These last few years, I tend to sneak out at some point, becoming very intentional with my thoughts, with my prayers for the day that for some reason on this day, carry more weight than usual. I always pray for my family and my friends. I pray for their health and well-being. I pray for the things they need, to be the people they aspire to be.

On this particular day, at this very moment, after some hunting along the church grounds, I find a cool spot in the shade, overlooking a small pond filled with small lilly pads (not the big romantic ones mind you that Monet & I both love, but I’m not picky). There’s a sign ten feet from me that reads “Danger. Alligators and snakes in area. Stay away from the water. Don’t feed the wildlife.” The water is still, nary a sound nor a ripple to portend gators or snakes. Still, one cannot be too careful, even if you are praying to God. Welcome to Florida.

I can hear “What Child Is This?” behind me. My sister and brother-in-law and their adorable daughter and son are all inside, a beautiful family, inside and out. (We had spent the morning and early afternoon at Indian Rocks Beach. In some small way, I feel that being in church acknowledging Christ’s birth is a form of thank you for our day under a bright blue sky over us with the bright blue waters of the Atlantic before us.)

My thoughts sitting in this secluded spot quickly find its way to one particular person, someone as special as special can be, and her dearly, departed mother, who passed away a year ago to begin this week. I am enveloped by my love for her, praying for her and her family, for and to her mother, whom she dearly loved.

I’ve learned that being intentional with yourself and honest with others about your intentions make for a truly loving relationship not just those within the sphere of your love and influence, but also with your relationship with the world in general. I’ve been told enough times to believe it and embrace it – I am love personified, and it’s not something I take lightly or take for granted.

And so I light a candle to give significance to my intentions for her and for her mother. That’s what love is. It’s both intensely intentional and it’s significantly significant.

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