I love seeing all the holiday lights come out.
I love the brightly lit trees, the candles, streetlights, storefronts….well, all of it! The lights are especially a welcome sight this time of year. In this part of the world the daytime is short and the nighttime is at its longest. Darkness seems to dominate the day. No wonder we rush to pull out those holiday decorations as soon as the trick or treaters leave our doorstep! The truth is: there is much symbolism and significance associated with light.
In many faith traditions, light is symbolic of divine presence. A divine presence that brings to mind images of hope, peace, and joy. At least that is what we see on holiday greeting cards.
Expectations of the Season
What beautiful words indeed: hope, peace, joy, and love. These words fill our hearts and minds with expectations of the season. Expectations that may include time-honored and sacred traditions involving gatherings that nurture and bring light to our spirits. Perhaps these traditions and gatherings include the hanging of holiday lights, gathering around a meal, participation in a special activity, or going to a place of worship.
Traditions, old and new, are lovely reminders of what gives us meaning and purpose in life. Traditions connect us in special ways to one another. Even our most treasured rituals and traditions had a beginning. So, make room for new traditions.
Traditions in a New Light
Making room for revitalizing old traditions while creating new ones is especially helpful when life transitions bring changes and grief. Physical changes may make it more difficult for us to do things like hanging lights, preparing a big meal, or going on a shopping trip as we once did. However, we can still be included and participate by sharing our stories, recipes, encouragement and love. This gives us a wonderful opportunity to engage those treasured traditions in new ways which can still bring the light of joy into our lives.
Loss of a loved one through death or disease like Alzheimer’s can bring feelings of grief associated with treasured memories and traditions. Feelings of grief can seem to cast a big shadow over the holiday spirit of hope and joy. It is possible to still enjoy these treasured memories and traditions by finding ways to incorporate the memory of your loved one into them. Some suggestions may include making a donation in their name to a favorite charity, making a special ornament, or lighting a special candle.
The possibilities are endless. New traditions can build upon old, cherished traditions. New traditions help us to move forward on our journey into a place of hope and healing. A place where we can find light in the midst of the darkness cast by the shadows of grief, hopelessness, and despair.
A Holiday Blessing
Have you ever noticed that even the darkest room can be pierced by the tiniest source of light? It is my hope and prayer that the light will outshine whatever darkness may attempt to cast its shadow around you this season.
I shall leave you with this blessing:
May your holiday season be filled with the light of hope, joy, and love.
May the Light shine brightly upon you and give you peace.
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Reverend Sherry Perry is board certified with both the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc., (BCCi) an affiliate of the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), and the National Association of Veterans Affairs Chaplains (NAVAC). She received her Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School.