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  • Writer's pictureKate Clinch

Let There Be Light

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing

and right doing there is a field.

I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass

the world is too full to talk about.”

- Rumi

Thousands of years ago, our ancestors living in the northern hemisphere, watched each year as the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, approached. It’s not hard to imagine them fearing the long, cold winter and praying for the return of the sun, perhaps in the legendary Stonehenge. Light is not just about the physical sun without which all life here would end, it is also a symbol, a metaphor: the Light, the ineffable Cosmic energy that animates and brings into being all things. The presence of the Divine, in God and in all things.

Today, this time of year is also imbued with our celebration of Light. The Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali; Jewish Hanukkah; Christian Advent.

In the Christian story, Mary, a young (probably teenage) woman, heavily pregnant must leave her home under the dictates of the Roman occupiers, to comply with their census. Far from home, unable to find lodgings, Mary is forced to give birth to Jesus in a stable. The image is iconic: Mary, holy, blessed, full of mother love, holding her infant, loving him, keeping him safe. Mary is legendary, mythic, one of a long line of Mother Goddesses, and reflected in the lives of all mothers and indeed all protectors of children, regardless of gender, because men can protect and love children too.

Today, these celebrations of light stand in stark contrast to the darkness that enfolds so much of the world. In too many countries, mothers cradle their infants, trying to keep them safe from bombs. Parents, relatives, rescue workers, complete strangers hold the bodies of dead children.

In a season of light, what can we come to understand about darkness? What can we illuminate in ourselves and the world that will empower us to find a different way?

A cursory examination of history shows us that war and oppression never really solve anything. If they did, we wouldn’t need wars anymore. But here we are, with bigger, more frequent wars, with bigger and more terrifying weapons, in a vicious cycle of destruction that threatens not just the people in certain regions, but the moral compass and the very existence of all of us and even the planet itself.

If the Light has a message for us now, what would it be? If the Divine Mother could speak, what would she say?

If peace is the opposite of war, then peace must be the cessation of bullets and bombs and propaganda. Surely, that’s a good place to start.

If peace is the opposite of war, then, long-term, peace isn’t enough. We need compassion and respect for ourselves and for each other. We need to heal enough to accept that our perspective/wounds/religion/way of life is not the only one and allow others to have their own. We need to accept our similarities, our common humanity, that we are, underneath any labels or mindsets, made of the same stuff. Cut us and we bleed. Harm our children, and we grieve.

We are all beings of light. May our Gods and our beating human hearts help us to live up to that truth.

Image credits. 9th Century Mary and Child icon. Unknown. Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images. Michelangelo's Pieta, photo from Through Eternity Tours.

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