December is a month of holidays and holy days. There are many voices to be heard, many traditions to be honored. Hanukkah, The Festival of Light, commemorates the courage and the faith of the Hebrew nation to overcome assimilation and control to continue their covenant with their God. Buddhists celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha on Bodhi Day or Rohatsu. Native Americans, Hindu’s and Muslims celebrate rituals that commemorate the departure of light, the darkness of the Winter Solstice, and invite the return of the sun.
For over 25,000 years, human beings have marked the time of the longest night. In ancient times candles were lit at the solstice to celebrate the Roman Goddess of Light, Mithras. It was an act of spiritual homage, a prayer of faith and hope. The original intent of light was to affirm faith in the goodness of life, the presence of guidance in the midst of darkness. The cold and the dark have always drawn humanity inward. With all of our technological advancement, we are still vulnerable to the dark, its chaos, uncertainty, and tumult. It is a timeless, universal experience. Communally and individually, we long for wholeness, for peace and for connection, for Light. Candles flicker. Stars twinkle. The Star of Bethlehem, the Star of David, a menorah, and an advent wreath all represent our common human quest for rebirth, hope, and renewal.
The manger can be a vivid affirmation of the sacred in every human being, the potential in every birth. With courage and simplicity, a babe grew to spiritual maturity. If we can focus on the spiritual potential of humanity and the ancient theme of light during the holiday season, we will affirm the holy in this season and thwart the artificial intrusion of the materialistic glitter and tinsel that abounds. Add yours to the many voices that sing in the darkness, keeping hope alive, cynicism, and despair at bay. Bring the timeless warmth of light into your home and community, a flame of mindful presence, compassionate choices, and loving awareness. Happy Holidays!