It is so very cold, and it is so very dark. The cold seeps into my bones and makes me want to just sit here in my chair with a fuzzy blanket and slippers. I only have energy to zone out in a book or watch Netflix until my eyes dry out. We have accidentally eaten dinner at four o’clock because it was so dark and we were so dull we didn’t realize it was not evening. Even in this winter chill, there is a kindling warmth. Under the dark, there is a spark of light, a glimmer of hope. In the world where we may feel battered and bruised and disappointed and afraid, there is a small light cast into this day by a tiny baby in a manger.
Oh, I know it might not be a tiny baby for you. Call it eight nights of light when there should have only been one. Maybe you set that Yule Log on fire and hang an upside down tree. Call it that one day we all overindulge and give each other gifts we do not need but deeply enjoy. That day where we ask ourselves to suspend adult pragmatism and tell stories to children of a fat man with reindeer and a sleigh full of hopes and dreams shaped as candy and toys. I hope we can love each other enough it won’t matter what we call it. My single prayer this Christmas Day is that we can love one other enough to spread the light.
Humanity tells itself stories to help us learn things better. There are many religions in the world and there is the absence of religion and there are writers and prayers and ordinary people reaching out with their own words. It is easy to hear stories we recognize, as it is easy to love our beloved ones. It is harder to listen with our whole souls to other stories. It is hard to think of that person we disagree with as someone’s Father or Son or Holy Baby. I tell my daughters to live life with an “open hand”. It usually comes up when they are fighting over some toy or piece of clothing. I just say, “Open Hand….” Which means do not hold too tightly to anything because you cannot share good things that way. If we live with a tightly closed hand, we also cannot fully receive good things from others. We want to keep what matters from being taken away by other people. We feel safe drawing a line between ours and theirs and yet we all trip over the line. We get hurt by it. We hurt others with the line.
The small spark of hope, light, warmth, love…it belongs to you. It belongs to each of us when we listen to the Other story. The light belongs to us when we ask ourselves, “What is true here?” or “Could I be mistaken?” When we smile at strangers or harried, overwhelmed cashiers…the light is ours. When we lay down on the floor next to our tantrum-ing child, the child rude and angry, but we lay beside them to show them we are for them. We are offering a spark of light to them. When we stand up for someone being hurt or disrespected, we offer our light to them and it grows larger.
When my day is lousy for whatever reasons, reaching out to encourage someone (anyone)else never fails to lift my spirits. My light, my love grows and multiplies when I make the effort to share it. Even in dark, cold days like we have seen. We owe it to ourselves and each other to offer this light to everyone around us even if just for self-preservation!
Maybe this cold, dark, weariness is seasonal. Maybe it is political. Maybe it is pandemical...??? Each of us has the same feelings with different names. Whatever words we use, we must hold fast to the belief that there will be light and warmth and love. This active, vibrant spark is what hope looks like. There is hope for you, hope for me and there is hope for them. We each hold the spark to bring the light of hope and a better tomorrow. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate today. Hope is born anew every single day. It is up to you and I to celebrate the light of hope with others.
Merry Christmas. May we be like the light of the world.
Music: "O Holy Night" by Josh Groban