Here Comes the Light

There are two ways of spreading light; to be
The candle or the mirror that reflects it.
--Edith Wharton

In ancient times, as the days grew shorter and darker, people became increasingly anxious and depressed, fearing that the sun was dying. Without the sun, whom they worshipped as a god, people knew they would perish. In order to coax back the source of their warmth, light, and abundance they created midwinter rituals, culminating in a great festival at Winter Solstice, on or about December 21-22, the longest night of the year. The women would gather greenery to decorate dwellings and prepare elaborate communal feasts. The men would light huge bonfires; in the bright glow of the flames representing the energy of the sun, they would hold revels with music and dance.

Today, celebrating the Winter Solstice is becoming very popular. For people who don't feel comfortable with organized religion or even with exploring an individual spiritual path, honoring the festivals of the natural world fulfills a deep, primordial need to connect with a Power greater than humanity, no matter what the Power is called. Women reviving the ancient feminine traditions celebrate the Solstice as the birthday of the Great Mother. Ecology-minded people, such as many Native Americans, honor the sacredness of their connection with the Earth. Women who have inter-faith marriages and can't make a choice between celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas often view the Winter Solstice as a neutral holiday the whole family can celebrate.

One meaningful way to celebrate the Solstice is to consider it a sacred time of reflection, release, restoration and renewal. Zsuzsanna Budapest, a leader in the Goddess movement, believes the interval of the winter solstice is the ideal time to reach out to those from whom we feel extranged. In The Grandmother of Time: A Woman's Book of Celebrations, Spells and Sacred Objects for Every Month of the Year, she reminds us that "Every so often, we want to make a clean beginning and must therefore atone for the past. I don't mean we have to feel guilty; just the opposite. When yo send out your Winter Solstice greeting cards, send some to people with whom you are not on good terms or to those with whom you have quarreled. Just say, 'Hey, let's forget our bad times. Blessings to you.' Each time you share forgiveness, somebody else will forgive." To make sure your forgiveness card is not misunderstood, which might make things worse instead of better, she recommends rubbing the cards with lavender buds or including them in the envelope. The card will offer a heavenly fragrance, sure the sweet scent of reconciliation.

It really doesn't matter whether we reflect the Light through our authentic gifts or whether our authentic calling is to spread it. What matters is that tonight the world is dark, cold, and bleak. Your flame burns so brightly. Share your Love and warmth with others. Watch the Light return.

-Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy©1995

My Christmas Prayer
He that has light within his own clear breast
May sit i' the center, and enjoy bright day:
But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts
Benighted walks under the midday sun;
Himself is his own dungeon.
--John Milton

This Christmas season promises to be one of the best ones yet, for me. I have managed to heal some of the relationships in my life, and to effectively reach out to members of my immediate family and let them know that I care and that I am here, in ways that are good and right. I have been successful in opening the hearts of friends with this weekly message, helping them to understand that, although some bad things may have happened or continue to happen in their life, that there is a reason - that there is a lesson to be learned on their Path. And that, with patience and understanding, love of yourself/others/God, one can navigate the troubled waters of life and safely reach the farther shore.

I will be gathering with family and friends on Christmas Day, as many of you will. It is a time when family rituals take over, when memories surface of gatherings past, and talk is heard of what the coming New Year will hold. There will be generations: old, young, young-at-heart and very young indeed and in fact. There will be big hugs, some tears, laughter and giving. It is my earnest hope that all of us have grown and will continue to grow, that we have loved and will continue to love, that we have lived and will continue to live each day until our days are gone in accord with that which is given us by our Creator.

And so, I offer here My Christmas Prayer:

Creator of All, we offer up our thanksgiving for the manifold blessings which Your bountiful goodness has conferred upon us. As we are called out of darkness to be bearers of Light amongst our fellow beings, we ask to be made helpers in the world. Take away from us the love of ease, and the fear of doing lest we make a mistake. Show us the simple things we can do to help our neighbors and ourself to be good and true. Brighten the daily round of tasks that we have undertaken and are tempted to neglect. Make us faithful to the trust that life has put upon us; hold us to the humblest duty; give us strength to accomplish all within our capability, in accordance with Your Will.

Prepare our hearts in sympathy to be partners in suffering with the weak and ill fortuned, partners in eager service with the strong and those who love their fellow man.

Reveal to us the wavering ranks of those that are struggling upward that we may cheer and support our comrades unknown. Remove from us the love of glory and the thirst for praise. Give us, in weariness, refreshment, and in strength, peace; but when we are idle, send shame, and when we are false, send fear, to bring us back to You. By Your Love restrain our censorious speech and teach us to commend. By Your Wisdom enlighten our Path, and direct our endeavors for the common wealth of all. And give to us the vision of that bright City of Heaven upon earth where all shall share the best they have in thought and deed, and none shall harm or make afraid. Amen and amen.

May this joyous Holiday Season shower all of you with its brightest blessings!



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