As the holiday season comes into swing (even if the weather on the East Coast has not gotten the memo…), I find myself thinking of the theme of light that permeates the season; and of the fears of darkness it hopes to overcome.
Someone noted to me–rather resentfully–how angry they are with the holiday season “hijacked by all this talk of fear and dark and hate and ugliness.” I was a bit surprised, because to me it was the opposite: This is probably the most apt time of year to face polarities of light and dark … Oh, it is a most difficult subject to approach and manage, but what can be more timely than doing so in the time of celebrating light and highlighting the survival or the birth of a religion? Or humanity’s perception of possible ongoing life?
So I think of the realities of shadows that too many are hell-bent on casting (either in advocacy of terror or in preaching overgeneralized fear and hate); and I think of the many lights that can chase those shadows away. I think of those who somehow gravitate more toward dark than illumination; and of the many who find light a far more satisfying source of power than adding to the pool of dark.
This year the battle between light and darkness may be especially evident, but the struggle has been then for eons; as did the valiant effort to shine light onto darkness and highlight life, not death.
This time of year, particularly.
The approach of the longest night has always been a time of worry and wariness. All through history, humans have found ways to combat it with light and celebrations, prayer and devotion, with reminders of the light-to-come and the reminiscing on the light that did return even after times of darkness. The miracle of light and hope and life.
Peoples the world over have some holiday of light around this time of year. Christianity itself ‘piggybacked’ onto existing holidays (and moved the celebration of the ‘birth of Christ’ from the summer, when Jesus was actually born, to near the Winter Solstice), to fill the need to note light and rebirth at the time of utmost darkness. People always needed to remind and rejoice the slow return of longer daylight and the promise of regrowth, spring, future harvests; life.
So … maybe it is not so strange that we are facing yet another battle of dark and light in this time of archetypical struggle between a sense of doom and a holding on to hope. There have probably always been those naysayers who predicted death, destruction, loss (or who hung the prevention of awfulness on penance and ‘sacrifices’). However, history itself also shows how humanity repeatedly–universally–found a way to hold light high and sparkle it abundantly. Cultures chased dark not with gloom but with sharing light, kindness, warmth, and celebration.
May we, too, remember that light will come. Is already on its way to coming. May we hold fast to the knowledge that the days will slowly overcome the night of soul and darkness will lose hold and weaken. We can hasten it with sharing our own light. With spreading kindness. With opening our hearts to those in need. With refusing to feed or amplify the darkness. Dark needs growth to spread, but light is never diminished when it is shared. We can help it grow by holding on not to fear, but hope.
Wishing you and all a season — a lifetime — of light.