by Hollister Thomas
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
I was listening to a podcast featuring author and speaker, Alexander Shaia. He was discussing the connection of the winter solstice to Christmas. It’s not just a convenient morphing of a Christian and secular or Pagan tradition. The winter solstice honors the shortest or darkest day of the year by celebrating the returning of the sun, looking towards light and birth and renewal. Then Christmas happens about 3 days later. Now, most Christians will see the significance of 3 days…the resurrection, right? Christmas day honors more than the birth of a man, it’s really the birth of hope and light and faith.
What is standing out to me right now is how at the darkest hour we find light, hope. This is the powerful message of Christmas. Whether you are a practicing Christian, Jew, Pagan, Buddhist, Bahá’í, or none of the above, this message belongs to all humanity.
We somehow know that in personal or collective deep dark, we will find fresh radiance and light. In our darkest hours, when we have the courage to face the dark and then walk through it, we find grace. Why? We are no longer relying on ourselves; we allow ourselves to be cracked open and find a new view. At this point, hope can be transformed into a deep knowing that light and grace is inevitable.
Now the nature of darkness is that it often beckons self-preservation. We might want to turn inward and protect ourselves. Here’s where a spiritual practice can help us find the light. The practice is generosity – selfless, giving acts of compassion and kindness.
At the beginning of this month, with just $16 in our account, I had the opportunity to cower in self-preservation not knowing how we would pay our bills. And now I sit here on Christmas Eve basking in the after-glow of working with my husband to raise over $1700 to create gift bags for the homeless in our community.
We abandoned the mode of self-preservation and opened our hearts to meet other hearts. Yesterday, ten minutes after we unloaded our gift bags at a local shelter, we watched them get carried back out into the community. Talk about spreading light to those who might be in their darkest hour!!!
Darkness may want you to turn in and protect yourself, but the light and radiance comes in giving.