December 14, 2012 by LeVoyageur
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.
Whether 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.