If you say “Christmas tree” to me or utter the words “Christmas decorations” I immediately become like a 5-year-old and see lights in my mind. I see twinkly, sparkly, dazzling colorful lights all around me. This is one of my most favorite things – the lights at Christmas time. The other night I turned off every lamp, plugged in the Christmas tree lights and watched a PBS Christmas special with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Sesame Street Muppets and a whole host of talented young artists.
As I melted into the music and wonderful silliness of the Muppets, I could see myself in the pictures being painted by the lyrics of every song. I could feel the Christmas story come alive. I imagined the warm lights of decorations on the streets and houses, the fireplaces glowing in windows, and a million stars up above smiling down on my world.
All this light, everywhere present rescuing me from darkness, like a beacon of hope for tomorrow. Is this not the ancient thread that keeps the Christmas story alive? The light during the longest, darkest night of the year?
The lights I see all around me decorating houses, trees, sweaters, fireplaces and more are made up of a myriad of colors – the colors of life. Yet I also have to remember that light and dark are the colors of my life. I am never all light or all dark – in fact, it is the opposite. Life is the exchange, the dance, the dialogue, the interpreter between these two. Christmas is another invitation for me to expand my ability to read and understand the language and interplay of light and dark.
The archetype of light is as old as humankind. Thousands of years before Jesus was born, the return of the sun from the winter solstice was celebrated as re-birth in many cultures. Oftentimes the stories of the return of the sun included the birth of a divine child. In the mid 4th century, Pope Julius adopted the Roman winter solstice festival, “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,” and in time it became the Christian birthday of “the son,” making December 25th a symbol of hope for things to come, a light in the darkness.
Light is an ancient archetypal symbol, imprinted on my consciousness from ancient times. Imagine for a moment how our ancestors experienced light – in many ways, vastly different from today. They would have had no artificial lighting, not even candles until very recently in human history. Nighttime would have been darker than I can even imagine, so dark that they would have seen heavenly bodies I can only dream of in my sleep. My own hand would not have been visible if I held it only inches from my face.
Our ancestors knew night and darkness in ways I can probably never know, and so the light became the guarantee that life would continue, as you saw the sun peaking over the horizon. Dark and light have become my constant companions – the colors of my life. In the darkness I can’t see, I stumble and fall, I may even lose my way. It is here I am most afraid – where things go bump in the night. Yet this journey of dark is earth’s life cycle, with winter and darkness going hand-in-hand with the dawning of a new day.
Is it any wonder that light has come to mean so much to me? Is it any wonder that I yearn for the rich and beautiful language of light – luminous, blazing, glowing, illuminating, radiant, sparkling twinkling, shining, brilliant, awakening, enlightened… Light is deep within me as the symbol of what is most sacred, divine and alive, that which is waiting to be birthed. The Christ pattern of light alive as me, waiting to come forth into the world. This is the Christmas story.
What has been in the dark, we bring forth into the world, integrating it, and emerging with a renewed sense of wholeness, a renewed sense of hope. We emerge more bright and shiny, as a new life that is a lamp unto the world, healing ourselves, healing others, uplifting and empowering every person desiring light in their darkest days.
Christmas is not about one child coming into human form 2,000 years ago. It is about the embodiment of awe, wonder, love and light in fleshy form. I am that fleshy, humanness of light. YOU are that fleshy, humanness of light. Have we become immune to this embodiment? Have we forgotten the divinity of our own humanity – those precious colors of life?
KNOW THIS: You are the dawn after the longest, darkest night. You are the splendor peaking its face over the horizon each morning. You are the vivid, colorful eternal source of hope during the darkest moments in our world. You rise more gloriously, resplendent, dazzling and brilliant than the flaming, fiery sun each morning – showing light, new birth and new life to those who wait in the darkness of their own obscure nights. You are the infinite possibility shining down on us, lighting my path – like the stars at night have done since the beginning of time.