Our neighbors across the street like decorating for the holidays. Each evening their house and even the trees in the yard are showered with twinkling lights that come from a few small lamps stuck in the ground. They even have movie clips playing on a plyboard screen. The most we’ve managed to accomplish in our own house so far is to find some used purple and pink candles which we light using the same Advent wreath we received as a wedding gift 34 years ago. Jewish friends are lighting their own candles on their menorahs during this season of Hanukkah. Nature lovers are keenly aware that next week marks the winter solstice, with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. A keen awareness of darkness and light seems to permeate our consciousness.
I’m sensitive to the fact that darkness should not automatically equate with negativity, however, so perhaps another way to think about this time of year is to contrast light with heavy. There is a certain heaviness to the season. One need not look further than one’s newsfeed to be aware of the heaviness in the world around us. Political discord is more acute than ever in our country. International tensions and violent uprisings seem to be increasing. Wildfires and natural disasters threaten the very planet which we call home. Hearts and spirits can easily feel burdened and very heavy by the weight of so many crises and calamities. In the midst of it all, we look for the light.
Here are just a few ways I’ve been experiencing light in the midst of the heavy recently:
- Meeting Leila Sansour, the founder and spokesperson of OPEN BETHLEHEM, an organization that works to bring international commitment to the resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian question. We were able to bring Sansour and her documentary to campus this past weekend. If you are interested in learning more about this important cause and would like to view an abridged version of the film, see: Open Bethlehem
- Watching an outpouring of generosity as so many people contribute time, talent, and treasure this time of year. Food and clothing drives, gift collections for children and senior citizens, “alternative” giving which benefits non-profits in lieu of traditional presents.
- Noticing increased political activism and involvement. Rather than simply decrying the current state of affairs, average citizens are making their voices heard, taking to the streets, knocking on doors, making phone calls, signing petitions, and other actions to bring about positive change in their communities and country.
Fortunately, my list could go on and on. I am grateful that signs of light abound when I look carefully and listen intently. The heaviness is lifted a bit when the glimmers of light come into focus. May each of us not only seek out the light but also commit ourselves to being people of light in our words and actions, not only this time of year but always.