It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness At Christmas, New Years, winters solstice there is much talk of darkness and light
The days are short and the nights are long and in this time between Christmas and the new year the trees are still lit and the houses and lawns with their angels and reindeer and wreaths of light still shine in the darkness.
We begin again tomorrow. A fresh start. Take it from the top.
And we carry this past year, and all our past years, forward, with memories, with smiles, with tears, with love and forgiveness and the million moments of grace that once in a while we sit still long enough to feel, and be grateful: graceful.
I have written before of the prayers of monks and nuns whose job it is to keep the lights on. They are professional pray-ers. I am grateful for them and their quiet unseen work, raising incense and chanting prayer with their whole being to God, arguing our case to keep the lights on a little longer. And so far God has agreed. Despite. In Mercy. In love. In the light that darkness cannot overcome.
In my fivety-five years of living, through all the trials and heartache and joys and uncountable blessings, through loved ones deaths and the miracles of birth, I believe. I believe in the power of prayer, in the graces waiting to be poured out to us for the asking, and yes, of course, even if we don’t have enough faith to ask, the blessings still flow.
How can I say these things in light of war and starvation and fiscal cliffs and the gunning down of kindergartners and their teachers, and all the misery that only scrapes by the daily news programs?
Because there is love. Love in the little acts of kindness, in the big acts of generosity and heroism. In the blankets wrapped around shivering shoulders. In the gentle touch of my mother’s hand on my cheek, so long ago. In conversations with my father, who now cannot speak, tethered to a respirator and feeding tube. In the squeals of delight when my grandchildren call out “Mamaw!” when they see me. In the cup of coffee my husband sets up for me each morning.
It is these small acts; all the small acts of love and tenderness, of generosity and forbearance, in kind words and hands held. The list is endless, the love is boundless. In the face of darkness, we light a candle. And then another and another until we are bathed in the light of love, in the midst of pain, in the midst of tragedy. It is these small acts of love, of prayer, of faith, of struggle that rise like incense to our God who came to live among us and open our hearts to love beyond understanding.
Keep the lights on.