The Winter Celebration of Fire and Light by Diana Young

Life is a flame that is always burning itself out,
but it catches fire again every time a child is born.
~ George Bernard Shaw

At the depth of winter, when the light is at its lowest ebb, when chill winds blow, and icy rains pelt barren fields, when naked limbs stand stark against leaden skies – at that moment when the triumph of the cold night appears assured – we celebrate the Light, we warm ourselves in fellowship and feasting, we kindle the golden fires of hearth and home, and gather in community.     Since time immemorial we have done this, whether we saw it as worshipful imploring of the sun god to return to us in our time of need, or honored the cyclical nature of Nature, venerating the forces that cause one season to succeed another, in an orderly procession.  Whether we are moved by superstitious, religious, artistic, or scientific appreciation, this nexus point of light and dark, this turning point of the year, is a moment in time which we commemorate, have seemingly always commemorated, in many ways.

There are two kinds of light – the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures.   ~ James Thurber

Light and truth are often seen as two aspects of one thing; thus we say that one has “seen the light” when we mean that the factual nature, or practical reality of a situation, has been apprehended.  This terminology often signifies a change of opinion or belief, an acceptance of something of which one was previously unaware or skeptical.  We are told the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus was accompanied by a (literally) blinding light. 

Nonetheless, it is not impossible to falsify such “light,” and manipulate others thereby.  Propaganda is one example of such falsification, where belief may be subverted by clever use of information to give an erroneous impression of events.  A lie, trumpeted long enough, and heralded as truth, will eventually be accepted as such by many, if not most.  The gentle glow of truth illumines and instructs, the glare hides and beguiles, but wisdom is required to discern betwixt the two.

The hero is the one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.     ~ Felix Adler

There is a path followed by those who seek Truth and Light.  The soul that values the world, and the opinion of the world, is often drawn to doing great deeds, achieving great things.  Such a one may raise the banner of change, fight injustice, suffer for the good of the many.  And many may be inspired to follow in those footsteps.  This is a good thing.  That soul may be a leader, a saviour, a king among men.  Others may benefit greatly as they travel upon the path blazed by the hero. 

And yet, the soul that quietly opens and pours out all that is not the light, that becomes a vessel for that light, a clear and pellucid expression of it, that soul values not the world, but the Divine, and so becomes one with it. 

It is not often that one is totally one or the other of these two types, however.  The seeker usually combines the two in various degrees.  The hero who chases after greatness misses the mark, and becomes merely a warrior, totting up victories.  The mystic who travels the path unheeding of aught but the intangible and unchanging spiritual reality becomes divorced from the lives and struggles of others.  Each must be tempered by the nature of the other, so doer and dreamer, hero and saint, are merged into the Living Light, the anointed Being of the Divine One active in the world.

What is to give light must endure burning.   ~Viktor Frankl

Among the stories told of the ancient Mystery schools is one that speaks of an eternal flame, fed by an asbestos wick.  Asbestos, it is said, is one of the three gifts brought to Humanity by the Manu, Melchizedek; though it burns, it is not consumed.  So must we, in our true spiritual nature, be eternal in our passion for the Divine Life that lives in and through us, of which we partake, and in which we exist. 

As Humanity, raised into the Light, we mediate the substance of worldly experience, and radiate the divine Being.  Like the burning bush, the fire of the I AM does not consume us, for we are eternal with that Living Light that we both draw upon and emanate.  Revelation is progressive; truth is unfolding, ever expanding.  Perfection, the prerogative of the Divine, is a process, not a static to be achieved. 

In more pragmatic terms, we are enjoined to constantly renew ourselves, subjecting ourselves, our beliefs, our religion, our science, all that we hold dear, to reevaluation.  The nature of the divine is revelatory, revealed to us as we move inward, upward, into the realm of Spirit, Spirit constantly freshened at the Fount of Being, itself.

Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space.  It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe. It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished.  ~Michael Strassfeld

The Christian faith welcomes the Christ Child into the world at Christmastide.  Each year carols are sung, bells rung, and glad tidings of peace on earth, good will to men proclaimed.  And yet – which of us, no matter how strong our faith, can look at the world and see evidence of this peace and good will, without seeing also the dark shadows of man’s inhumanity to man?  This year, as every year, it seems, there is profound injustice, ignorance, willful and otherwise, greed, hatred, fear, anger, need, violence, tortured souls and bodies, and from countless mouths rise cries demanding change. Against this lurid backdrop we hold the light of our knowing, our being, our truth, feeding that flame with our lives.  And we are not consumed.  As individuals we may dim and seem to die, but as beings of Light, we move beyond the limitations of matter, and continue in the Life Eternal and Divine.

The stars are the street lights of eternity.  ~Author Unknown

 At this time, as we contemplate the longest nights, the darkest days, the horrors of humanity without understanding, without grace, we also must remember that this is all occurring within the wisdom of divine awareness, within the embrace of divine Being.  And within us, a child is born, as we allow the flame of divine truth to burn away fear and doubt, and stand firm within the living Light. 

So then, we celebrate this season with warmth and cheer, with merry-making and good fellowship.  We abide in the light of our awareness of the Divine, and the ultimate grace of time in which to let the farce play out, and folly fall before the great gathering in to the dazzling dark, wherein the Light is born.

Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light?   ~Maurice Freehill

Written by Diana Young