I wrote this a few years ago, but I decided to dust it off and repost it, because it still sums up my wishes for us all in this season of light. Best wishes to you and your family, wherever you are.
The season of light is upon us.
Earlier this month, we celebrated Chanukah, when Jews light the candles on their menorahs to celebrate the miracle of a sacred lamp burning steadily in the reclaimed temple for eight days on only a single day’s worth of oil. Christmas is tomorrow, when candles everywhere will be lit to welcome the newborn Prince of Peace to earth. Kwanzaa starts on Wednesday, with candles for Kwanzaa’s seven guiding principles. Last Friday was the winter solstice, and drum circles and candles said good-bye to the shortest day of the year and welcomed the lengthening hours of sunlight. In another week, the New Year will arrive in a shower of booming fireworks.
In the middle of our darkest times of winter, we use candles and fireworks to restore light and remind us that the darkness will not last. The cold will give way to warmth. The ice will thaw. The spring will come. Leaves will bud and flowers will bloom. And we light candles to show we remember, we believe, and we will persevere until light spreads around us once again.
Last week, I was outside at my mailbox when I heard a flock of geese approaching. We live near a bird refuge, so geese are forever flying overhead, even in the winter. I stopped and waited to see them as they came up over the house across the street. It was a small flock. There were nine geese.
And one seagull.
The seagull was white and shining in the sun, almost glowing beside the darker, larger bodies of the geese. But the seagull appeared to be a welcome member of the flock. He soared and glided in the middle of the others, keeping perfect time and formation with them. As one, the entire flock, including the seagull, curved into a turn and headed for the mountains, finally disappearing in the distance. There was no honking protest. There were no missed wing beats. There seemed to be nothing but comfortable acceptance. The seagull was simply a member of the flock – whether temporary or permanent, I don’t know, but it was clear he was welcome. Adding the seagull didn’t diminish the flock – it enhanced it, adding a quiet splash of sunlight to a routine flight of noisy shadows.
It was a lovely thing to see. If nature can make acceptance look that easy and beautiful, perhaps all hope is not lost for us human beings after all.
So my wish in this season of light is this – that we all find, somewhere in our hearts, the capacity to welcome each other’s light into our little shadowed worlds, because there is strength in numbers and beauty in new colors. And strength and beauty are good things to keep close as we push through the cold months ahead.
May the lights of the season be yours. Merry everything!