New Thought Editorials > From Darkness into Light
From Darkness into Light
Most of you reading this are probably still basking in the glow of the Christmas holidays. Perhaps they were joyous times with family and friends; perhaps they somehow didn’t measure up to expectations or to former happy times. Or maybe you are new to New Thought, or to Judeo-Christian traditions for Hanukkah followed by Christmas, and you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, other than parting with a lot of money for presents. Maybe you got a bit of vacation, or at least a change of pace. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you are into winter, the season of the least amount of light and the most amount of cold, a time when sensible animals are safely tucked in their burrows, hibernating.
Let’s cut straight to the essence of all this: The earth tilts as it spins, and in the Northern Hemisphere, the days get shorter and the nights get longer until the Winter Solstice, the shortest day (and the longest night) in the year. Cold weather sets in for a season, and primitive people were concerned that the sun might go out altogether, and they would have no source of heat, light, or food. So they built great bonfires to encourage the sun and add more light. The darkest time of year became the time when there was the greatest celebration of light and growth. I don’t know exactly how people in Australia or the South Sea Islands cope with late June or July, but a lot of them originated up north and brought Judeo-Christian customs with them.
And it worked! The sun did not go out, and the days grew longer, until “thine azure sister of the spring” showed up, life once again was renewed, and people’s spirits rose. The rest and darkness and hibernation had been just what was needed to get things going again. What we give our attention to (light) grows. Hmmm! Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, honors a time when the Maccabeans recaptured sacred space that had been overrun and despoiled. They wanted to cleanse the space before using it to glorify God again, but they could find only one container of consecrated oil, so they used the substance on hand, and lit it. Lo and behold, the cruse of oil that should only have lasted for one day, burned for eight days! A minor miracle, perhaps, but one that is recorded in the Apocrypha. It is a part of Hebrew sacred literature, accepted as such by Roman Catholics but held at a distance by some Protestant denominations. New Thoughters: Rev. Dell DeChant, a Unity minister and university professor of philosophy and religion, recommends the Roman Catholic Fireside Personal Study edition of the New American Bible as a study Bible for New Thoughters. In it, the Apocrypha is braided into the rest of the Old Testament. To Jews, Hanukkah is a relatively minor event in their history that has been upgraded in importance in order to harmonize with Christmas. And that works!
Then it gets even better with the advent of Christianity. There are widely differing views about who Jesus of Nazareth really was, but what is indisputable is that his life, death, and resurrection as reported by up to 500 eyewitness accounts made the biggest difference in all human history. He was probably born in the spring, when the shepherds would have been “in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night”. It rapidly became traditional to celebrate his birth shortly after the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year, when humankind most desperately needed and sought a Savior (pick your own definition). This also coincided with the Roman Saturnalia and other joyous celebrations, so that worked. Just get them into the temple and let God take it from there! So, fine, myth pretty much takes over, but myth is, as Alan once stated (even though he wanted to revise it later), “a little lie told to reveal a big truth”. The issue is not whether it is true, but what approximation of truth (“what God knows”) does it reveal?
So here we are, having just come through the darkest time of year and brightened it with whatever old traditions or new customs we saw fit. Shored up by a combination of Judeo-Christian history coupled with the greatest new findings of science, we have taken advantage of a wonderful combination of roots and shoots to strengthen our faith and allow for our spiritual growth. Wisdom, the blend of love and intelligence, is supplied by God for every moment of experience in our lives. Refreshed by the Judeo-Christian holidays, we move through the remaining days of darkness into the returning light.
Oh, you thought it had all gone secular on us, with Merry Xmas and Happy Holidays? Not exactly! X is the Greek letter chi, the first letter of Christos, or Christ (“anointed one”). Holiday is holy day, and holy means “belonging to God”. He is there, if you seek him with all your heart.
It’s always your choice; choose wisely. And here come the three Wise Men, on January 6th. “Wise men still seek him.”