Traditional clay diya lamps lit during diwali celebration
Traditional clay diya lamps lit during diwali celebration

The days are growing shorter and the light more fleeting. We in the northern hemisphere are entering the dark soul of winter, and we have two choices: two embrace and celebrate what is now and what is real, or to run from it as if we could truly escape.

With every season, there is celebration. And the winter is no stranger to joy. In the cold, we burrow into one another. We light the fireplace, we toast our wine glasses, we snuggle in under the blankets, we ski down snowy hills.

There is much to enjoy in this season of darkness, not the least of which are holidays focused on light.

For me, in a month’s time, there will be Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights that celebrates the miracle of light burning far longer than the quantity of oil would have us believe.

happy-hanuka-000008113717_LargeI accept the metaphor of this story as wisdom about my people forever more. How do we endure? How are we still standing, still teaching the ethics of our forefathers, after so many centuries gone wrong?

We walk into the light, and the light is wisdom, knowledge, glass-half-full celebrations.

Jews joke that every holiday has a storyline of “they threatened to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.” Maybe so. But there is something jewel-like glinting from these stories that tell us that we make it against all odds, we find the light, even when it is very dark.

Today begins the holiday of Diwali. “Within each of us shines the Divine Light,” writes Pujya Swamiji from Parmarth Niketan, the ashram in northern India where I practiced yoga.

Decorative-lights-in-a-Temple-000050240212_DoubleHe writes this: “Just as the divine light burns within our own being, the divine light burns in everyone.  One of the most beautiful tenets of Indian culture says that God dwells within all … In this way, … another human being, an animal or Mother Nature is connected … this Divine Light in all is seen everywhere, and wherever one sees God, one must try to serve Him.”

Which means every interaction this day and the next are holy encounters. The rude clerk at the coffee shop has a divine spark living deep within her and so my kindness to her curt ways is the ultimate gift of hope and peace in the world.

Light shines bright, flickers against the shadows.

When the world seems dark, it is we who find ways to bring in the light. We must. For there is no other solution but to become mired in what we cannot see, or to lift the cloud of confusion by shining light into the darkest corners.

Sometimes the darkness lurks within us. And then, we must look for the light in others to bring our own back to the front.

And sometimes, when it seems like it is only darkness that clouds the world, we must remember that there is a dichotomy of existence, light to dark, heavy to light, happy to sad, and beyond.

We bring the light in because we choose to find it, to see it. What will be your choice today?

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