I have noticed more lights going up, decorating trees outside – my own included, and Christmas trees being brought inside, similarly festooned with lights and all that glitters. This has made me reflect on the way that light, and the symbol of light, affects our lives.
We have commonly used phrases that use light in their imagery.
- “Light at the end of the tunnel” – telling us that there is hope even through the dark times, or success after immense effort.
- “Hide your light under a bushel” – For a person to keep some talent or skill hidden from other people. The idea is that a person having a talent which they can be proud of should not hide it.
- “Let there be light” – is often used as a metaphor for the spreading of wisdom.
Light as a symbol is simply part of life.
Diwali remembers the story of Rama and Sita and the light symbolises the triumph of good over evil. In the story of Chanukah (Hanukkah), light also demonstrates the power of God, when the temple lamp was relit, there was not enough oil to keep it alight, but miraculously what was there lasted 8 days. Christmas also uses light; the New Testament refers to Jesus as the Light of the World and the approach of Christmas is marked in many Christian communities by the lighting of Advent Candles.
At this time of year particularly, Light takes on even more significance. The days are getting shorter as winter draws in and the comfort in a fire, or seeing twinkly lights are just irresistible. I think it almost takes us back to prehistoric times where we would have gathered socially, clustered around the fire for light, warmth and safety; telling tales and engaging fully in that a sense of community.
This year feels different we are having to be careful so we are currently unable to be together in larger groups, travel to visit loved ones or celebrate momentous occasions. We cannot have that physical presence and community.
So as we look to decorating with lights and shiny tinsel I think we can consider how we can all offer light – how we can enrich each others’ lives with a bit of sparkling good cheer, by glowing with kindness or shining with the light of encouragement, think about how we can gleam with compassion or illuminate a room with a smile, glow with generosity and be radiant with love.
In short, let’s luminesce!
The lights are still there, offering hope, direction and promise of things to come.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.