If you’ve been around with me before, you know Giftmas is an annual charity fundraiser, and if you’re in a big hurry today, no worries — here’s the link to do good. If you’ve got some time, you can read my musings on light in darkness, too. Thanks!
Solstice. Festivals of Lights. The Christ Mass. Holiday lights. Winterlights.
Even with so many traditions among our eight billion global citizens, light in the darkness is a universal thread in mid-winter observances. There’s a reason we drape LEDs over anything that holds still (and some things that don’t) and spread glitter and sequins to reflect every photon from every facet. In the dark of winter, we celebrate the light.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)
That Bible verse has been translated in several ways. Its original Greek suggested the darkness did not “grasp” the light, which I find satisfyingly dramatic and visceral. Older English translations say that the dark did not comprehend the light, which works both in the older linguistic sense of comprehending as encircling and in a more modern sense of understanding. Whether in ignorance or malice, darkness still has not come out on top.
And that means a lot to me this year. I’m sure I’m not the only one still feeling the touch of 2020 and the brutal social implications of a divided society turning on itself in a time of crisis. I remember important men suggesting that no one had ever asked the grandparents if they wanted to be protected, or a celebrity awkwardly holding a prop book for a photo in a place cleared moments before by chemicals and violence. The road back has not been smooth or well-lit. War and protests against authoritarianism and oppression still dominate our news feeds. We’re still struggling forward in the dark.
I have just returned home within the last week from a trip looking for the light. I hiked a 100-kilometer pilgrimage trail in Japan, a mountainous pilgrimage route over a thousand years old, worn deep by those seeking enlightenment, aid, or hope. It was a pilgrimage for me, too, as I overtly hoped to find connection and peace again after these last few years of shaken faith in my fellow humans.
Even this post was a struggle — on Monday afternoon my site was taken down by a hacker with suspicious timing. It wasn’t until midday today that I could safely access and keep my site up for more than a moment at a time, letting me post this belatedly.
But darkness, no matter how dark, cannot hold back the light. Despite sown dissension by those motivated by status and money to hype up the bad things, we can travel together and meet new friends. Despite a bad actor’s best efforts, I can write this post at lightning speed and invite you to acknowledge and celebrate with me.
The thing about the light is, we have to let it work. We can’t replace it with determination, and we can’t beat darkness without it. I always liked the illustration of the uselessness of trying to sweep away shadows from a dark room in order to make a room ready for light; that’s plainly ridiculous, but still it’s something we sometimes try on ourselves. “I’ll become a better person and then I’ll work on making some lifestyle changes,” or “Oh, I’ll try to form some new habits and then I’ll see friends,” or a myriad of other well-meaning but foolish conditions hamper us.
Light travels in a straight line at the, well, speed of light. You’re never going to sweep shadows faster than that.
The fastest, and the only, way to bring in light is to just let the light in.
One of the best ways to share light and do good is to do some good. :) And that’s why I participate every year in Rhonda Parrish’s Giftmas campaign to fill the Edmonton food bank. I invite you to join us and contribute. Donating canned goods in a traditional food drive is helpful, but donating money to a qualified organization that can leverage buying power is even better, multiplying that donation far more than we could at a restaurant or grocery. Our goal is to raise $1,000 CAD to provide 3,000 meals to needy families.
Oh, and if you’re an American like me, that donation stretches even farther. Time to flex our currency advantage!
To donate, just click through here: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/2022-giftmas-fundraiser/
If you cannot donate at this time, you can still help to spread the light! Please share our posts and the link to the fundraiser. Comment, like, subscribe, do all the things to help boost our sharing in social media. Let’s all grab candles, real and figurative, and share some light in the darkness.