Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lovers of the Light

The days grow shorter; darkness increases. Cold grips the earth with a chilling embrace. Our world swells with violence, hunger, hatred, oppression, suffering, poverty, sickness, and death. Another year inches closer to its end. Reasons for despair abound.

But, the night is darkest right before the dawn. Even the deepest blackness is no match for even the smallest of lights. No matter how strong, no matter how pervasive, no matter how enduring the void, darkness always succumbs to light. Light a match and darkness is no match. It vanishes. Flip a switch and darkness runs away. 

This Friday we will celebrate the Feast of St. Lucy, patroness of the blind. Lucy literally means "light" and it is fitting that her feast day falls within the sacred season of Advent. We know Christ as the Light of the World. Lucy's own flame is a stirring model and example of letting your light shine for others. 

Lights abound in our homes, our neighborhoods and our Churches during this time of the year. We decorate our houses with lights. We put them on our Christmas trees. We light a series of four candles around our Advent wreaths. We light up our world during this secular season of winter to remind ourselves that Christ's light will conquer all, and that it is coming soon.

Yet, we so easily give into negative thoughts, feelings, emotions and tendencies. We hold onto anger, hurt, and jealousy. We so easily participate in gossip, lies, and deceit. We so easily give into sin. We vindicate ourselves by saying, "I deserve this. I am justified in feeling this way. Someone else deserves the blame. I have such bad luck. Someone up there must be against me. If God truly cared about me, he wouldn't have let this happen. I'm tired. I'm sick. I'm sick and tired. It's his/her fault. I'm right. They're wrong." 

What's more is that we don't keep this negativity to ourselves. Misery truly does love company. It needs it. Being the only person to be down in the dumps makes the dumps even dumpier. Having others wallow in our mud along with us validates our pessimism.

Everyone feels this way. I'm not the only person. Other people are upset, too. Lots of people are upset. A whole lot of them. The entire lot. Upset. The whole lot is very upset. 

Sound familiar? 

Why? Why do we give into negativity? Why do we complain so much (as opposed to venting like I am doing)? Why do we believe the lie that negativity can produce anything productive

In the words of The Christophers, "It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness." Author William Saroyan agrees, "Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed." St. Paul encourages the Philippians, saying, 
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (4:8). 
Be a lover of the light. Encourage each other. Build one another up. Be kinder than you think you should be. Be gentler. Give the benefit of the doubt even when you doubt someone deserves your benefit. Fight against the coming of the night. Rage against it. Light a candle. Share your flame with others. Lift. Elevate. Laugh. Give. Act. Love.  

Invite others up to the top of your mountain and help them ascend to your heights. Together enjoy the view and the fresh air. 

Stay positive. Stay awake. 

It may be dark for now, but soon and very soon...