Be the (Holiday) Light
Many faith traditions celebrate holidays with light during the dark days of winter. Christmas lights, Hanukkah menorahs, Kwanzaa Kinaras, and others are beautiful symbolically and sights to behold. These lights, whether electric or flickering, warm our hearts and light our way.
In contrast to seasonal TV commercials and Hallmark movies, not everyone feels the light shining on them, particularly this year. There are so many of us, millions of us, who are distraught over the Presidential election results and what the future may hold. Many of us fear for our own safety because of our religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or immigrant status. Many of us fear for the safety of our friends, families, and other species. Many of us fear for the regression of our country over the next four years, including financially, medically and environmentally. Many of us fear for our relationships with other countries and our place in the world. Many of us fear for all the above.
Let’s shine a light on these fears, face them, and take steps forward. We are stuck with the darkness, but each of us can light a proverbial candle. A single candle isn’t enough to light the way, but millions of candles together can create a glowing path out of the darkness.
This is how we do it:
Practice self-care. We are not fully useful if we don’t take care of ourselves. Just as flight attendants instruct us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves so that we can help others, so too must we be well enough to light our own candle, and use that candle to light others. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, eat well, meditate, play, laugh, and spend time with loved ones. Do whatever brings you joy, and minimize the events and people who are, well, bummers.
Take one action. Sign one petition, make one phone call to an elected official, send one email, post one message on social media, go to one meeting, or contribute your time or money to one cause. When we feel overwhelmed, we often feel hopeless. When we feel hopeless, we often want to shut down. But each step – each candle – is our way forward. Don’t pressure yourself to do everything at once, but do get started. You will be making a difference AND feeling better.
Be a light for others. This tip is the easiest one of all and can be completed multiple times each day. Smiles, pats on the back, thumbs up, thank yous, and compliments brighten everyone’s day. Tell a store manager how helpful his salesperson was for you. Be sure to thank the driver when you exit her bus. Hold a door open for the person behind you. You get the idea – as you go through your typical day, there are as many ways to bring light to others as your imagination allows.
Honestly, I am no Pollyanna, and I think we have tough times ahead. However, by collaborating, by sharing our individual lights, we will get through the darkness of this season, and together we will create and celebrate the coming light. More than any year I can recall, the candles in our windows, menorahs and kinaras not only honor and celebrate the past, but represent hope for the future.
Dark seasons end and the light always shines again.