A Season of Lights
As I drove to work at Beacon Hill the other day, it was still dark out. It wasn’t that early in the morning, but as fall turns to winter, the darkness seems to overcome the light. As Michiganders, we know what it’s like to drive to work in the dark and then drive home from work in that same darkness. The early morning sunrise has said its goodbyes and the after-dinner sunset has become a strange afternoon guest. The nights are long and the days are short. With the winter solstice quickly approaching, we all long for light.
There is something about light that provides a sense of security and hope. Recently, my three-year-old daughter has been getting up in the night to tell my wife and me, “I’m scared of the dark.” So, we added a night-light to her room… and a small tree wrapped with Christmas lights. She’s hardly convinced when we tell her, “There is nothing to be afraid of.” Yet, when we plug in the night-light and turn on the Christmas lights, she experiences a level of comfort that our words are unable to provide. The need for light is beyond words.
The longing for light in the dark of the winter months is not unique to Michiganders… nor to my daughter. From religious traditions to cultural traditions, light is considered sacred. Christians light their advent candles of hope, love, joy, and peace as they await the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Jewish families light the candles on their menorah during the eight days of Hanukkah. Culturally, many people place lit candles in their windows, as well as lights on their trees and homes. Even here at Beacon Hill, lights line the roof of the Community House, and a tall Christmas tree lights the interior. The sun may be rising later and setting earlier, but other lights fill the void.
These lights can even point us beyond themselves. In the New Testament, Jesus is said to be the “Light of the World.” At the beginning of John’s gospel, he says of Jesus: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) Jesus was born into this world as the lifegiving presence of God. His light was the life he breathed into the lives of those he touched. His light continues to brighten people’s lives in meaningful ways. The lights that brighten our tables, homes, faith communities, and streets can serve as a reminder of the light of life that we experience each day.
Beacon Hill is filled with lights of all kinds—especially during December—but the most profound light I encounter comes in the lifegiving stories of the people of Beacon Hill. In a recent memorial service for one of our residents, I heard numerous stories of how her light had touched so many people’s lives. Friends and caregivers shared about how this resident represented the light of life and how she never ceased to make people laugh. Even though she had passed away, her light had not gone out. Her light was still brightening people’s lives in meaningful ways. She was a lifegiving kind of light.
This December, as you enjoy the lights of the holiday season, I wonder who they might be reminding you of? How is someone being a light in your life during these dark months? How can you be the light in someone else’s life? The darkness of winter may be upon us, but the light of life is all around.
Grace and Peace,