As we are writing this article, we are in the midst of a full moon! I’m sure many of us have noticed it as it travelled across the sky during our waking moments through the night. This time of the year is dark! The sun sets earlier and rises later, and hours without sunshine are the norm. For many, this darkness ultimately affects our moods in a negative way. S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a well-known phenomenon related to the lack of sunlight. There are several supplements and/or vitamins available to address this condition. Our local library has purchased special lamps that simulate sunlight, and they are used by many people. As they read under the lamp, the light stimulates serotonin levels in the brain and helps adjust the circadian rhythm, the body’s process for regulating the sleep-wake cycle.
If we are seeking other possibilities of shedding light during these times, there are many opportunities in the next few months that we can take advantage of. Every faith tradition that we are familiar with has a celebration where light is a critical component. Many of them occur during this season.
Diwali is the Hindu practice where people light clay lamps outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects them from spiritual darkness. This festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians.
Chanukah (Dedication) is the Jewish holiday of light. Each sundown people are invited to light candles in a menorah as a dedication to life and religious dignity, and a reminder that miracles are possible.
Christmas is the Christian reminder of the light that Jesus brings to so many believers. The light of God’s spirit, the importance of enlightenment or knowledge, and the warmth of family love are all represented by the lights displayed on Christmas trees and ornaments as well as the many candles lit in peoples’ homes and places of worship.
In the Buddhist tradition, light offerings symbolize wisdom, because the light of the candle overrides the darkness of ignorance.
Many of us think of light as the illumination of the darkness and the elimination of ignorance. Sometimes we will need to bring intention to our practice. Turning on a light in our room to find something that we know is there is obvious. Remembering to bring a headlamp outside when you are leaving your friend’s house in the dark is reasonable. The search for wisdom also requires illumination of our mind and spirit. Turning on a light switch is easy. How do we ‘turn on the light’ within our souls to brighten our spirits and guide us through our journey?
Community, nature, prayer, family, friendship and love are all powerful components of a strong solid spirit. At GES we explore together many different traditions and practices in order to enhance and build on our internal light.
This coming month, we will be inviting everyone to sing in celebration of the light. Stay tuned for details of our annual Christmas carolling event on December 16. This is an opportunity to bring your own memorable religious songs and practices that you want to share with others. Leah and Lynnette will continue their monthly offering on December 19: The Voice of Wonder (online for now) continues to delve into the art of listening: to each other, to the natural world, and to the call of the Divine (God, Source, Spirit, whatever language you choose).
Let us together… brighten up ourselves, our friends, family and communities… and our world
simply by being there for and with each other. Bring in the light!