The Reason for the Season

As we enter the holiday season, the war over how to greet each other reemerges. Does one say Merry Christmas? Happy Hanukkah? Joyous Kwanzaa? Happy holidays? Holy winter? Even amid the religious tensions, the clamour to claim the holidays does not diminish the near universal joy of the season. This time of year is wrapped in gift giving, shopping, decorations, and music about the birth of Jesus or the dreidel or cold, snowy weather. It is a time of family gatherings and celebrations with friends–and everywhere there are LIGHTS…twinkling, white lights, colored lights, blinking lights. Flashes of joy.

"lights downtown" by JSmith Photo on Flikr

“lights downtown” by JSmith Photo on Flikr

I always think of this time of year as the season of LIGHT. And the Reason for the Season is our need for light. We all seek to be enlightened, to learn and grow. We all seek to find “light” when our days are dark and life is challenging. We seek light to give us direction when we feel lost. We connect with others who seem to “shine”. We thrive when the sun is bright and walk more confidently when our path is illuminated in light. In my Catholic Christian tradition, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the one who came to bring “light” to the world. He was born to show us the face of God and enlighten our human minds. In my faith, knowing and following Jesus gives me direction to live with love, compassion, mercy, purpose and joy. In the Jewish tradition, Hanukkah, which means “dedication,” celebrates a miracle of light. It is also called the “festival of Lights,” during which a special menorah is lit to commemorate the miraculous burning of candles for eight days to re-dedicate the temple which had been desecrated. During Kwanzaa celebrations, candles are lit to inspire traits of character and strength. In ancient times and throughout recorded history, the winter solstice, December 21, prompted celebrations of light to stave off the darkest day of the year. In many traditions, it is these dark days of winter which cause people to seek and celebrate light. So as we live through this season, regardless of your religious tradition or belief system, what darkness do you have in your life? Fear, worry, anxiety, anger, disappointment, shame, loneliness, sorrow, hopelessness, pain, confusion, uncertainty??? What brings LIGHT to your darkness?                                                                                                                                                                             The people in your life who love you… friends, family? Recognizing and embracing your own uniqueness and beauty? Your religion, your spirituality, your gratitude for all your blessings, your beliefs about love, goodness and purpose? As we enjoy all the lights of the season, let us seek the LIGHT we need to illuminate our darkness!

“Merry Christmas” by David Leinhard on Flikr

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