What Light Brings to Our Journey in the Valley

I am SOOOOOOO glad the winter solstice is here! I am thankful that the days will start getting longer once again. It has been somewhat obvious that I seem to be good at hibernating (ie; going to bed earlier than usual) as the days have grown shorter. Of course, I am getting older but I’m not THAT old yet!

Still, as Christmas day approaches I can’t help but recall the readings of the Advent season, namely the words from the Book of Isaiah:

The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them. (Isaiah 9:2)

They are the words the Church uses to describe the coming of Immanuel: God with us. But why? Because Immanuel, that is, Jesus says, this is precisely WHO he is:

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)
And likewise, it is WHO we are to become:

nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:15-16)

The light symbolism of Jesus is a powerful one, one we so very much need in our lives and in the Church. As I write, I am sitting beside a row of house plants in our home. It has been a kind of puzzle trying to determine just where the best place is for the plants to be to grow best because each needs a certain amount of light. Just like water, light too brings life. Thomas Green, S.J., reminds us that light, “like any great symbol...is drawn from our ordinary experience…(28, “When the Well Runs Dry).”

I have grown weary of the stripping of the symbols from our modern churches. I have walked into so many auditoriums that have offered no help or encouragement to understanding God and the mysteries of this life nor the spiritual reality that pastors are trying to preach about.  Having continued to walk through the valley of suck (the life of a widower and caregiver), I have been looking, even longing for symbols to help me!  I can tell you, emotionalism has not been helpful - emotions are often a trainwreck.  Yet, it is interesting that we have grown dependent on images and memes to express faith now.  Look on Facebook and Instagram - symbols are being shared ALL...THE...TIME! Many, share great truths too…

I know for me, I have seen enough darkness and I long for more light. Our words express only so much of the mystery and majesty of God. As you look at the lights of the season, may you remember their origin is symbolic…” the LIGHT will shine!” Light brings hope and life to us and it SHOWS us God's role in our lives - God is here in the darkness! I pray we all see Immanuel this season, and throughout the coming year.

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