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Survivor guilt echoes the Christmas story

I perch on the floor hugging my knees watching as the Indian Ocean tsunami turns paradise into hell.

On Christmas night from a cosy hut on the top of snowcapped Swiss mountain, news of the disaster that destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives bursts into our warm Christmas bubble of joy.

Just 72 hours earlier I was there.

I was on that Thai beach, swimming those crystal waters that are now dark, churning and horrible.

It was the most joyous and peaceful Advent I have experienced.

In Thailand there are no Christmas sales or holiday stresses.

It was life as normal with cows grazing by the dusty, potholed road.

The occasional Happy New Year sign opposite fields of lanky trees slowly dripping rubber into jars was the only hint of the year's ending.

Gentle pulses lapped at rotting piers steadying my heartbeat. Slowness opens my soul to the movement of the spirit.

Rural, beachside Thailand is perhaps the most joyous place on earth.

But that day, slowness was replaced with nature's brute force and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I was glad we were no longer there; but yearned to help. Joy was far from mind.

Survivor guilt is a hard feeling to shake.

When Christ came into the world, it was a crazy place; probably much like it is now.

But Christ came to bring joy, peace and hope to all people.

How can you do the same for your family, friends, community and world this Christmas?

Sometimes it takes destruction or a life-changing event for us to appreciate the simple, joyful moments in life.

The joy we feel welcoming the Christ-child is underpinned with sorrow.

We know how the story plays out for this child.

Christmas bells toll for Easter people.

This child's birth, death (and resurrection) has been documented, sung about, painted, and retold more than any other in the Western world.

This child, through sacrifice, became the hope of the world.

That is certainly something to be joyous about.

From the Uniting Communications team we wish you a joyous Christmas season.

We look forward to bringing you a new, improved Journey in 2013.

Mardi Lumsden is the Director of Uniting Communications.