In this month of darkness, in this the darkest month, the light of the human spirit shines forth in so many– in so many ways. As the days grow shorter, houses and trees are decorated, and snow falls. In the hushed silence of the nights, lights shine in windows, and whisper in the darkness. For this season of giving brings the festivals of lights: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and in the Fall, Diwali. Each tradition incorporates light in its ceremonies and decorations.
A neighbor-friend of mine who lives down the road, a donkey in his stable, reminds me of the story of another manger two thousand years ago. And seeing him snug in his stable with snow on the ground gives the illusion that all is right in the world. But all is not well. Far, far too many know no peace in any season. Far, far too many live in poverty. Far, far too many suffer the effects of the new mammoth storms.
We who live closer to the land are so blessed to share our lives with animals. These creatures are constant reminders of humility and simplicity in this rapid, complex, multi-tasking world. We drive around on a December night and see houses covered in lights with illuminated trees, houses warmed by fires, and imagine them filled with laughter and conversation and love. We are blessed to have so much, when so many have so little. Blessed to be able to celebrate our religious beliefs as we wish, when others cannot. Yet even in the worst of conditions the strength of the human spirit is indomitable.
In December’s darkness we light lights. In truth, we are beings of light. A light glows within each one of us. And, at the most basic level, we are beings of light for we are made of stardust. Perhaps that is why the stars hold such majesty for us—stars compose our bodies within, and, without, our skies sing with stars the hymns of the Heavens.
Einstein said: “A human being is part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe”– a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest– a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” We are all cut from the same cloth and our inner light is one.
And in this holiday season we behold the night sky as shepherds did two thousand years ago on the birth of the holy infant, in a stable. That night a star lit the whole sky to guide the shepherds. And, in 165 BCE, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was re-dedicated and with the miracle of the ritual oil, the light burned for eight nights.
On these deep, long, silent nights as we light our houses, our candles, our Menorahs, our trees, let us look inside ourselves and find the glow that unites us and will guide us to the Everlasting Light.