While there are things that make me crazy at Christmas time (traffic, consumerism), there is much that I do like about the Christmas season, not the least of which is all the colorful, creative, and sometimes subtle, light displays that permeate the neighborhoods. While I appreciate this dark season, it can feel a bit oppressive at times; holiday lights lift my spirit. When the lights come down, it is always too soon for me. This is one reason my Christmas tree and the strings of lights on my porch stay up, and shining, all year round.
Holiday lights remind me of the many ways light, and especially candlelight, is held in reverence by people of many faiths, including Unitarian Universalism. I need only to light a candle to feel that I’ve created a sacred space. A candle placed in a chalice, on top of a beautiful cloth, quickly becomes a sacred altar. Add some objects that hold emotional value – a sea shell found on a long walk on the beach with my beloved or a rock discovered while hiking a trail with a dear friend – and the candle light illumines much that is holy in my life: family, friends, connection … love.
Creating sacred space in a corner of a room reminds me to create sacred space in a corner of my heart – to light a candle, if you will, on the “altar” of my soul. Creating sacred space externally reminds me to keep my internal light stoked so it remains strong enough to endure difficult times — the bad news that seems never ending and the personal losses that can too easily overwhelm. I keep my own internal fire burning strong, and affirm and encourage the light in those around me, because the world needs people who are burning with compassion, joy, hope, and love.
How do you keep your fire burning? How do you let your light shine? What spiritual practices do you have in place to stoke your fire when it needs a boost? How are you affirming the light of those around you?