My prayers and thoughts today are for those who are struggling this Christmas season and find the holidays a time of mixed emotions. All too often it is at the holiday season WHEN THE PAST AND THE PRESENT COLLIDE. Whether through loss, divorce or estrangement we try to capture what we once had or we try and blot out bad memories. We try to ignore the empty chair and we try to ignore the pain and emptiness in our soul.
For too many people, the holidays are a traditional time of happiness and festivity. Yes, there can be pleasure, but there is also much pain, because the season magnifies the sense of loss.
While most of the world seems to be addressing holiday greeting cards and planning holiday menus, those who have lost someone or a relationship are struggling with other concerns: How long does the grief last? Will the holidays always be this dreadful? What do we do with the empty place at the table? What is there to be thankful for this year?
It can often be difficult to get that place in our hearts where we can admit that nothing seems quite right in our house or in our hearts this season. We may ask ourselves if we can ever be happy again? Will the sights and sounds of the holiday season ever touch us again? Will there ever be LIGHT again?
Maybe we hold our breath and hope the holidays go quickly. We doubt we can endure too long. We sit in the dark, because we think we have forgotten the light.
We wish for some sign of hope in the season of icicles, some magical sign that will keep us going until the warmth of spring arrives. We turn on all the lights in an attempt to chase away the pain, grief or loneliness.
We all have EXPECTATIONS of the season, for each other and for ourselves. All too often we have a mental picture of how things ought to be. And perhaps all too often we have to admit that those expectations are based more on fantasy than reality. Or perhaps we measure success and happiness on how close we come to those expectations.
Handling the holidays may not be so much a question of how to eliminate pain and grief from our lives, but how we can learn to live with the hurt and grief rather than be consumed by it.
Yes, celebration is the theme of this season, and real life, with all its blemishes and pains, is brushed away into the dark corners of silence. However, if we choose to peek into the shadows, we will see the harsh realities that exist and are even magnified during the Christmas season. All too often the desired “peace on Earth” is disrupted by intrusive circumstances such as difficult family members, the death of a loved one, financial strain, isolation, and loneliness.
And if we ignore those visited by such unwelcome strangers is to fail in living out the very spirit of this sacred season.
And so today, as your sister in Christ, I desire to be present with you and to listen to your heart, to pray with you. Although I haven’t all the answers I can go to the One who does, the One who offers hope and healing.
Today I will light a candle, and as I do I will send up a prayer…..lighting a candle is a way of remembering, a way of healing, and a way of bringing hope.
A solitary candle brings light to the darkness and serves as a reminder of the power of the human spirit.
The flickering flame ignites something deep inside us that connects us to each other. As Erasmus noted; if we give light, and share light we can watch the darkness disappear.
Lighting a candle begins by taking a moment to slow down, to focus on our intention and decide on the reason we are lighting our candle.
I invite you to light one with me, either for yourself or for those who are struggling this Christmas season…. light a candle to remember a loved one, a past relationship, or whatever other significant loss or losses that you or someone may currently be experiencing.
There is a soothing, healing effect in lighting a candle. A solitary candle brings light in the darkness; it is also a symbol of the human spirit.
The hope is that when we light a candle, it’s a reminder that Christ is alive and is the light of the world. And as we sing the Christmas carols it’s a reminder that it’s the most wonderful time of the year, not because we have to be cheery and merry, but because we don’t. God still comes to be with us. It’s OK to acknowledge loss and sadness. That’s why Jesus came – for the lonely. He came to minister to people who are hurting.
I am reminded of the words to a song by Kathy Troccoli-Go Light Your Candle;
We are a family, who hearts are blazing
So let’s raise our candles light up the sky
Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus,
Make us a beacon in darkest time