Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday wishes - light, peace, and love

The history of the intertwining, culling, and refitting religious and cultural traditions is a fascinating and complex topic which is often reduced around this time of year to something like "Christian rulers co-opted Pagan festivals and symbols and affiliated them with Christian holy days." But symbols represent a lived, shared meaning as much as cultural history, so what symbols and what meaning do we wish to share this year as Bodhi Day has passed, Chanukah is complete, Eid-ul-Adha is over and Christmas and Kwanzaa are approaching? I decided on -

- light. Light is a symbol of awareness, enlightenment, peace, hope, faith, and virtue (to name but a few of its meanings). Light is associated with the sacred existing as and within the mundane.

It could be argued that the symbol of light is an expression of our dualistic perspective; that is, if light only makes sense in terms of darkness, then to offer light is to reify its opposite. But rather than using that metaphor as promoting antagonism, it can also be seen as transformational.

Light reveals what is hidden in the darkness of our ignorance. Rather than seeing them as oppositional, one can see them as different states of completeness. It is suggested that Awakened beings do not see people, places, or events as inherently 'good' or 'evil' - the Enlightened see Buddhas and Bodhisattvas where others see criminals and despots. In the same sense, what we are discussing here is not a light of judgement but a light of wisdom and compassion that shines equally on all and encourages their growth to the fullest potential.

Whatever your history with the holidays, or your experiences with religions and spiritual paths, and wherever you perceive yourself to be in your life, may you always be open to the opportunities you encounter in your life to share your gifts with everyone you meet (and to accept them as well, even though they may sometimes come in some pretty funky wrapping). Just to sound all preachy, for those who dig that kind of thing, in this kind of exchange we thereby embrace the Light, that it may become (realized as/awakened in) flesh.

PS: If you wish you may now break out in chorus to "This Little Light of Mine" (lyrics, videos). Or not. Be well.

[Image credits: I found the above image with poem at the Blog of the Grateful Bear, who in turn says "I saved this graphic to my computer several years ago, from Anglicans Online."]

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