The Winter Solstice is upon us which means from this day forward the days of light begin to get longer, imperceptibly at first, and then fully observable as the winter months of cold progress toward the warmth of spring.
The holidays we as a nation celebrate at this time -- the Jews celebrating Hanukkah, the festival of lights, and Christians celebrating Christmas honoring the birth of one who is said to have brought light, love and peace into an otherwise harsh Roman-ruled world. One Muslim author, Huma Qureshi, writes “this is a time of getting together with friends and family, something festive and bright to cheer up the winter drear. When it came to Christmas, as Muslim children, we always knew that Jesus was our prophet too, which justified, in some way, our enthusiasm for the season.” The atheists among us celebrate the winter solstice marking it a time to return to that light, rebirth and its metaphor of hope.
Whether it is the love of one person or the love for humanity and the earth that sustains us all, or the return of light from the sun, this season is or should be about the better angels of man's sometimes savage nature.
The itinerant preacher, Elmer Gantry, in the film that bears his name says "Love is the morning and the evening star." In Corinthians 13:4-8 it says "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” and in Corinthians it is said too: of faith hope and love that the greatest of these is love.”
Love is, indeed, as the song says, a many splendored thing. The contemporary vocalist supreme, Adele, sings of love with a maturity that betrays her age. She sings of it and life’s experience with soft strength, with pathos and a melodious female voice as beautiful as the famous male tenor Andrea Bocelli. She and he sing so movingly it evokes tears of happiness as well the sadness of life’s dichotomy. I believe it is the basis of their, now, near universal appeal.
In "The Thornbirds" Colleen McCollough, its author, says:
“There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain. Each of us has within us something that just won’t be denied. Something to which we are driven even though it makes us scream aloud to die.”
Man understands the brevity of life and the death that stalks all of us but we pursue it anyway. It is the reason we continue with the hope that a better world is just around the corner within reach.
And so we must strive for this world of love and light no matter how dark it seems, no matter how different we all are from one another and no matter how difficult that love is to pursue. There is something worthwhile for which to strive as our eyes open to a new day and we, most of us, no matter our station in life and no matter our difficulty are happy our eyes open to see that light again.
I wish all of you happy holidays no matter which one you celebrate and hope for a better day just around the corner bringing us not only light and love but peace!