Peace and the Lights of Winter

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December 14, 2012 by The Editor

Winter Landscape

At this time of year I look forward to the joy of being part of a community, of a home that sees itself as part of something larger than a couple making life together, although that is an immense treasure in and of itself. We’re also part of an extended family, we’re neighbors, colleagues, and part of a worldwide network of friends who we encounter in daily life online or in person.

The rarity of the times that bring people together is reason enough to set aside misgivings about our differences this time of year. It is too easy to let petty squabbles influence who we will interact with. There is enough of that the rest of the year. For the weeks from around Thanksgiving until the New Year or so I try to grow into a different way of being.

This is the time, perhaps more than any other part of the year, when our hearts should be most open. Now, if at no other time, is when we should be most ready to welcome a guest, to allow our fellow human  beings a chance to warm themselves by the fires of faith, family, and fraternity.

happy-hanukkahWhether it is the light of the menorah, the light of the Christmas tree, or the light of the yule log as it burns, they are all manifestations of the deeply human drive to find light in the darkness. Though the many religions of the world differ in their celebrations, Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, Bodhi Day, Yule, and the Solstice are all festivals of light, or enlightenment.

These festivals bring together in just a few weeks the devotion of billions of people to a common idea: the awareness of the inner light as the source of harmony, spiritual regeneration, and renewal. The nurturing of this inner light is, above all else, at the core of the teachings of every holiday of the season.

I write this as a call to peace both in the world and in our own lives. We look abroad and see war, but fail to see how that destruction works its way into our own way of thinking. We tell tales of oppression, but fail to see how we diminish others by denying their deeply held truths. May this be a time to let our better natures grow, in the warmth of the divine light that comes to us in so many forms during this season.

No matter what faith or belief system you hold, it is yours to do with what you will. If your teaching is that Jesus is the light of the world, born to save us from certain peril, now is the time to live it. Now is an opportunity to bring His light, your light, to the world through your actions.

If your teaching is that a miracle of light brought new hope to the Jewish people, now is the time to understand what that hope meant and pass this teaching on in joy.

If you believe in the light of universal humanist values, tell that story. Revel in the multitude of interpretations of light we encounter in this deeply cultural season. Each one belongs, in the end, to all of us.

May the light of the season bring you joy –

May there be peace on earth and good will toward all –

May all of your holidays be bright and merry.

Yule01

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3 thoughts on “Peace and the Lights of Winter

  1. If we can ensure that people we disagree most with are deeply heard & understood, something new may be created between us. “The kingdom of God is in your midst” might refer to the feeling of aliveness we have when we feel most connected to another person or God. Thank you James for this beautifully drawn reminder of what can be born when it is darkest.

    • That is a lovely Rebecca – thank you. Waking up, feeling alive, must certainly entail our connections with others. There is no “reconnecting with the source” without going through creation first.Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. IARF Peacemaking Commission
    freedom with responsibility
    Blessings for Christmas and Festivals of Light.
    Dr. Richard Boeke, Co-Chair 44 (0) 1403 257 801

    BRITISH IARF CALENDAR – DEC 2012 – 2013

    January 29 – (Religions for Peace – Interfaith Harmony Week)
    6:30-8:30 Westminster Cathedral House, 42 Francis St. London –
    Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok: PALESTINIAN STATE – A JEWISH JUSTIFICATION. Is it too late?

    February 2 IARF Celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week
    Worship: Speakers. Circle Groups. Music. Rev. Feargus O Connor
    Sat – 1 PM – 4:30 PM Golders Green Unit Church, London NW11 8BS

    February 3 IARF Sun Service 11 AM, at Ditchling Unitarian Church.

    February 14 11AM-3PM British IARF and IARF Peace Commission, Essex Hall, 1 Essex St, Strand, London.
    February 17 11 AM – IARF Sun Service at Essex Unitarian Church. 112 Palace Gardens Terrace. Kensington., W8 4RT
    February 24 11 AM – IARF Sunday Service at Sevenoaks Unitarian Church

    April 12 … IARF Programme and Table at British Unitarian GA. Nottingham University. – 11-14 April 2013

    April 19-21 – Compassion Retreat at BK Lighthouse, Worthing.
    May 18th Saturday IARF British Chapter AGM – details to be announced.

    Summer 2013 – IARF British/Irish/EME Conference – tba
    It is hoped that IARF Peace Commission, EME, and Ulster IARF members will join. We would hope also for participants from North America, India and Japan.

    You are invited to join IARF. Please send your cheque for £15 or more to “British Chapter IARF” c/o Richard Boeke. 16 St. Mary’s Gardens. Horsham, RH12 1JP, UK.

    For more information about the IARF, please see http://www.iarf.net

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