Friday, December 16, 2011

United by the Light

I have been absent for a while due to a death in the family. I just haven't been able to get myself to do much of anything other than the most basic necessities ... 

But as the year draws to a close, I felt the need to post something so I've decided to share with you the very first article I ever had published in a national magazine way back in 1998. (And I even got paid for it!) 

I originally entitled it There's Something about Christmas but the publication, Unity Magazine, retitled it United by the Light. I hope you enjoy it ...

Having been born and raised Jewish, I can remember as a child always feeling that I had missed out on something when the Christmas season arrived.  Our only acknowledgment of Christmas was a family dinner on Christmas Day.  And the only reason we did that was probably because everyone was off work on that day.

There was something so special about all those lights and decorations and gifts and special songs and Christmas trees ... excitement seemed to hang in the air and was so thick I could almost feel it ... but around my house we had no part in any of it.  OK, we did celebrate Hanukkah and light the candles of the menorah, and we even received some gifts ... but it just wasn't the same to me.

This year I seem to be in the midst of some kind of internal shift, because I am having a new and special awareness of both of these miraculous holidays of the winter season.  Everywhere I look, I am finding stories and articles about Christmas and Hanukkah and the spiritual and metaphysical significance of each.  It's amazing how many things they have in common.

I feel as if for the very first time I am seeing both of these celebrations as special and wonderful, and I'm proud to have reached the point in my life where I can choose to celebrate both.  Interestingly enough, a non-Jewish friend of mine went out and bought her first menorah this year, just because she wanted to have the opportunity to celebrate this holiday of lights. 

What I have found particularly significant is how both of these holidays seem to center on light ... the lights of the menorah and the lights of the tree and other Christmas decorations.  Without even considering the more religious aspects, I find it interesting that at the darkest time of the year, when the days are the shortest, both of these holidays focus on light as a beacon in the darkness.  What that means to me is that both of these holidays are about a recognition and celebration of the spiritual light of divinity which lies within us. 

Whether it be the lights on the Christmas tree or the brilliant reflection created by the candles of the menorah, it's all about honoring God by letting the light shine through us ... honoring the quality of our hearts ... honoring our divinity.

There's something about all these lights and the magical quality of the holiday season that fills children, in particular, with a sense of awe and wonder.  May we all remember, as well, to look at the world at this time of year (and every day of the year for that matter) with those very same "childlike" eyes of wonder ... seeing things as if for the very first time ... as beautiful and fresh and new.

Let us celebrate the true spirit of this season which brings us together, which unites us in the light.  As James Dillet Freeman once wrote of it, the Christmas Spirit is all these things:

"the spirit of faith in life,
a sense of the joy of living,
the Spirit of goodwill,
the faith that life and light will win the ultimate victory,
the love of God in the cradle of our hearts,
the heavenly light by which our mind is lit, and
the truth of our divinity."

May we live each day with that Spirit in our hearts. 

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