BY KEVIN KRIKKE, GUEST BLOGGER
The holiday season has long been a time where people creatively celebrate light during the year’s darkest days. Recently, during the week before Christmas day, my family took part in one of our favourite holiday traditions: trimming the tree together, hanging an array of handmade and store-bought ornaments on upturned pine branches. We all agree that the best moment comes immediately after we’ve finished decorating. There’s a scramble to turn out all the room lights, followed by several seconds of darkness, and then my wife or I will plug in the rainbow-coloured string of bulbs that is wrapped around the tree. The collective gasp and then sigh of wonder is audible.
There is something about light that seems to feed our spirits, particularly when it is juxtaposed with darkness.
This past year, a series of global events has some concluding that our world has descended into a new era characterized by shadow and gloom. Continual conflict in the Middle East, the growing presence of ISIS, the migrant crisis in Europe, and recent terrorist attacks in Paris and California seem to be filling more and more people with fear, anxiety, and sometimes even despair.
In light of these widespread feelings, it has never been more important to find ways to bring light in our communities and our world. Thankfully, we are not the first ones in history to face dark times. Others have gone before us whose words and actions demonstrate their realization that, as the Chinese proverb says, it is always “better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”.
1. Reflect Hope
Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl has consistently provided hope to millions since it was published in 1947. As the darkness of Nazism grew and forced her family into hiding, she discovered hope in this: “I’ve found that there is always some beauty left – in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.”
During this season, how can you be intentional about discovering hope through the beauty in our world?
2. Twinkle with Truth
The recent movie, Unbroken, tells the dramatic story of World War II veteran Louis Zamperini. Zamperini courageously survived 47 days at sea after his plane was shot down over the Pacific, and then endured a lengthy stay in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Afterwards, he shared this inspirational truth: “However dark the night, however dim our hopes, the light will always follow darkness.”
This coming year, who do you know who needs to be reminded of this particular truth?
3. Glisten with Grace
Brennan Manning was an author and priest who fought in the Korean War and struggled for years against the personal darkness of alcoholism. He wrote, “To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.” Recognizing this truth about ourselves is a vital step towards grasping divine grace.
As you look around in your neighbourhood, your city, and your world this Christmastime, ask – how can I daily embrace and then communicate God’s grace to others?
4. Sparkle with Selflessness
American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr faced the violent and dark forces of racism in America. He claimed that, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
What better time than a new year to commit yourself anew to a lifestyle of creative benevolence?
5. Illuminate with Love
It was Dr. King who also wrote, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Although that hate claimed Dr. King’s own life, his methods of non-violence ultimately resulted in widespread societal change within America, and continue to inspire people around the world.
This season, perhaps it’s time to reestablish love as the central motivation of your life. In the midst of shopping deals and holiday get-togethers, may we all find the time to recognize and receive the light of love that is embodied in the original Christmas story, and then let our lives begin to glow brighter and brighter in the darkness.
INSPIRE LIGHT FOR COMMUNITIES
INSPIRE LIGHT FOR COMMUNITIES