With one big holiday behind us, we turn to the rest of the winter holidays with a combination of trepidation and delight. There is such a combination of wonder and mystery and overwhelm and overdoing in this season, it’s hard not to have some mixed feelings.
Our theme for December is Hope, which is fitting both for the season and for the times we are living through. My favorite time from the Christian calendar is Advent, the time that we sit in the darkness for something new to be born. I love the metaphors that abound in it all. The journey to Bethlehem, awaiting the birth of the Son and the return of the Sun at the Solstice. I love sitting quietly in the dark with only candles or twinkling Christmas lights to illuminate the world.
With all our frenzy about this time, it can be especially useful to take time out to rest and reflect. Daylight grows shorter and nights grow longer. Seeds lie dormant, awaiting the return of light and warmth. What is dormant in you, waiting a new birth? Yet in the dark, it can also be easier to lose hope, to see no way ahead. Even in these unsettled and anxious times, we must not lose hope. It is all that keeps us going sometimes. The hope I speak of is more than a simple optimism. Our hope now must be robust, even fierce. And we must put our faith in something beyond our individual human capacity to resist and renew. Yes, each of us has such capacity within, though it’s not sustainable over the long-term if it does not reach beyond the individual. We can be waylaid by despair and hopelessness.
That which is larger may be the strength and hope you gain from community, from others’ hands to hold. It can be a faith in the collective goodness of humanity. It can be faith in a larger love that creates and holds us, and sometimes carries us. So this holiday season, nurture your hope. May the darkness give you rest and respite. May the twinkling lights bring you delight. May gatherings with friends and family be jolly. May your favorite holiday traditions – eggnog, stockings hung by the chimney with care, fruitcake, bouche de Noel – whatever they are, offer comfort and peace.
And may the candles we light in the darkness give you hope.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Blessed Solstice
Happy and Hopeful Holidays
with love, Rev. Dana