Welcome to the season of light. Whatever your faith, the light, in the Northern Hemisphere, can shine in radiant contrast to the dark around us.
But during this fly-by-get-ready-for-the-holidays time of the year, do we take time to appreciate both the light and the darkness that surrounds it? Or do we just fume when a traffic light doesn’t change fast enough for us?
I had an opportunity to ponder this potential lack of appreciation when I took a few minutes to interview the Light during his once-a-year sabbatical. He takes a yearly break when the days are short north of the equator. (For the record, the Light increasingly self-identifies as non-binary and gender-neutral, but says “he” is OK for now.)
I was stunned to hear him say, “This year, I’m debating my return.”
He told me, “People expect me to come back and light up the world. But this year, they’ve been so busy creating darkness, it’s as if I don’t matter. Mass shootings, lies, separation, hostilities and greed. Hardly the welcome I deserve.”
“I get it,” I replied, “But what about the darkness? Is darkness necessarily bad?”
He went on, “No, the real darkness isn’t bad at all, just the dark stuff you create with unkindness.
The kind of darkness I travel with is astronomical, natural and necessary and can make me stand out and look distinguished, if I say so myself. Have you noticed how the moon glows when its light is set against a deep indigo sky? Or appreciated the beauty of a single candle glowing in a dark chapel? Or admired the red rays of dawn streaming across the dark blue backdrop?
Darkness and I can be quite a becoming pair.
This year, at the same time you keep creating man-made darkness, you believe you can make up for your excesses with the man-made light from your electricity and electronics. You keep your skyscrapers illuminated around the clock, put 1000 lights around Santa Claus and the reindeer on your lawns, and use those awful halogen lights when you’re camping.
The more you fill the world with artificial light, the more you seem to forget about me. I assure you that the Light of the World will not be found on your devices.”
I told him I hoped he was exaggerating about our neglect, and asked what would make him feel better about returning for the Solstice.
“Don’t take the Light for granted. You need to do your part and match my light with your inner light and goodness. The outer light and inner light are meant to be together. When you send light to each other, you dispel darkness, even that which you’ve created.
I can’t light the world without you.”
I asked him if he could give a few more specific suggestions.
- “Take time during these December nights to appreciate the dark. Go outside and watch the fog, the stars, or a frosty moon. Spend time in darkness watching how a flame flickers. Greet the dawn with gratefulness, even if it is still shrouded in clouds. Honor the natural world. You’ll gain respect for the balance in the relationship that’s meant to exist between the light and the darkness.
- Spend more time in reflection with yourself. Without judging, notice the parts of you that feel heavy, despairing, cynical or in need of illumination. Feel free to invite light into those places rather than trying to escape your inner darkness by projecting it on others.
- Build a fire, and allow it to burn away your feelings of shame or your regrets. (You could write what you’re willing to let go of on a paper you then throw into the flames.)
- Find the secret storeroom where you keep your light. It might be your soul–or your heart–anywhere you hold caring, compassion and concern for others. Pay attention to these and amplify your love for the world–it’s the wattage you need.
When I sense your light flowing to others, it will be my time to return.
Finally, don’t take me for granted. I start to come back on the Solstice but it takes me three days to get up and running before I can increase your light by one minute each day. During those three days, I suggest you contemplate the light: mine, yours, and ours, and celebrate what we can create when we work together.
We have a lot to do to brighten and heal this place in 2020.
Do your part, and I’d be delighted to return on December 21st.”
He paused, wincing,
“But, promise me this: no more children in cages next year. I’m not kidding.”