This Advent reflection on light was written by Sr. Joy Pellegrino, SC. It was done
originally for the newsletter of St. Vincent's Hospital, Westchester, where Sister
is the Coordinator of Spirituality and an Art Therapist.
Don't Let the Light Go Out
December is truly a month of joyous festivities. How fitting that the Divine mandate “Let There Be Light” permeates so many of our sacred traditions and seasonal celebrations.
The lighting of the Advent Wreath in the Christian
tradition invites the faithful to wait in anticipation for the One who is to come, Jesus, The Light of the World.
The kindling of the Menorah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days.
In African-American celebration, the Kinara, a candelabra holds seven candles of red, green and black each representing one of the Seven Principles of Kwanza.
Each ritual exemplifies how light serves to dispel darkness and illuminate our world.
A number of years ago, while on retreat, I participated in an experience called “befriending the darkness.” Led into the woods at night, I was to find my way back to the retreat house by following the ringing of chimes. Stumbling through the darkened woods, I remember being fascinated by the over-powering presence of the trees. The very trees which in daylight had been a source of tranquility, now, under the blackened sky, were transformed into gargantuan monsters that appeared to be hovering over me. Clearly, my perception of reality was altered while walking in darkness.
Darkness is not usually welcomed as a friend. The bleak days of winter give rise to the incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Those afflicted can experience a range of unpleasant symptoms including depressed mood, feelings of anxiety, lack of energy and a sense of hopelessness. To combat these feelings, light therapy is often prescribed as a treatment.
"The People who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2).
For most of us the preference is to live in the light. The words of the prophet Isaiah seem to echo this sentiment: "The People who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (9:2).
May each of us, in our particular tradition and calling, find simple ways that our light might shine forth for others to see and, in doing so, may we give glory to God.
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