“May the blessed light be on you, light without and light within. May the blessed sunlight shine on you and warm your heart until it glows like a great fire, so that a stranger may come and warm himself at it, and also a friend.” –Irish Blessing
It is the seventh day of December and thoughts of the brevity of time swirl in my head like a winter storm. The light of day is brief; it is 4:30 in the afternoon and I light a candle, an instinctual and essential ritual that helps to keep the darkness at bay. For the sun sets early here in New England in the great woods of New Hampshire, where December can be a month heavy with darkness.
Indeed, December offers the most intense contrast of light and dark – the pitch black cold and frightful darkness that descends early upon the house, contrasted with the warmth of safety and light dwelling within; the darkness of another year coming to an end, snuffed out with insignificance like a single candle, giving way to the light of new and hopeful beginnings embodied in the story of Christmas.
The story of Christmas is the story of us all – born into a world of dark and light we come packaged with tidings of great joy wrapped in warm blankets of hope and promise. We are reminded of our life stories most intensely with each passing December day through our holiday decorations and preparations, the lights we turn on and off, the fires we build and put out, and the remembrance of things past that move in and out of our minds during the quiet or frenzied moments of time.
And so, in the remaining days of this dark month, 2017 years after the story of Christmas, let us embrace and celebrate December in all of its light and darkness. For it is the darkness that pushes us to the magic of light, enabling the stars to shine brightly, the lights to twinkle magically, and the fire to burn delightfully on a cold, snowy New England evening.
As Charles Dickens once wrote, our very “best wishes for your Merry Christmases and your Happy New Years, your long lives and your true prosperities”!