The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9:2 (KJV)
Some of my favorite memories of childhood involve sitting in the car in my pajamas looking out the window at Christmas lights. I loved doing the same with our children. Oldest son, who was almost a year old at his first Christmas, spoke his first word at Christmas season, “dights” (or lights). I love putting lights on our house, too, but this year, I decided I was too old to be climbing up a ladder and attaching Christmas lights to the roof. I only put them in places where I could reach and still have my feet firmly on the ground. Our house has a porch all the way around it, so I draped lights on the railing and added greenery and ribbons on the front of the house. A single wreath made from combining the two worn out wreaths that once graced each side of the front door was joined by two lighted wreaths to replace the old ones. I also draped lights over the arbor that I moved into the front garden at the beginning of last year. I planned to buy a family of wire lighted deer but after being shocked at their price, came home with three Christmas trees made of plastic spirals and lights. I put them in the front garden on the opposite side of the arbor. Because they are white lights unlike all the other lights that are colored, they have been bothering me ever since I pushed the switch to turn them on the first Sunday in December. Not only do they clash with the colored lights, but they are so bright that the colored lights on that side look faded and dim. I have been considering alternative sites ever since, but reason that time is running short and I don’t want to make the effort this late in the game. Next year, I will not put those bright white lights anywhere near the pretty colored ones. I was thinking about the lights as I reread one of my favorite quotes by Madeleine L’Engle: “Maybe you have to know darkness before you can appreciate the light.” In our world, we do our best to stay in the light and avoid the darkness. Particularly at Christmas time, we want everything to be happy and jolly with no hints of gloom or despair. It makes it hard for people who are suffering. They must pretend all is well. After all, who wants to be around someone sad when you are all decked out in your Christmas garb, looking for the mistletoe and someone to kiss underneath it? Yet, even Christmastime is not all happiness and cheer. In fact, the Bible says that Jesus came into the world because He knew how dark it really was. So don’t be afraid of periods of darkness or even people experiencing a dark time in their lives. Darkness not only teaches us to appreciate the light, but it drives us to the source of light. Especially at Christmastime.