Minute Meditations

Let There Be Light

Jesus told us that we’re the light of the world, and do we ever take him seriously when we’re celebrating his birth! We string lights inside and outside, wrapped around pillars and fences, trailing from rooftops. Now we have laser light shows that play on the front of the house. We string lights in the house around doorways and up and down stairs. The tree might have big lights, little lights, LED lights, bubble lights, and a lighted star at the very top. And no matter how old we get, there’s still a little bit of magic when we switch them on. Our love of light may go all the way back to an ancestral memory, at least in the northern hemisphere, of fearing the darkness and the cold of winter. The twinkling holiday lights give us not so much utilitarian light as a sparkle and dazzle that imitates the stars on a crisp cold night. So it’s not surprising that spiritual teachers through the millennia, beginning even before Jesus, have used light as a metaphor for holiness, for joy, for peace. 

As researchers study the effect of various kinds of light on the parts of our brain that control waking and sleeping as well as mood disorders, we gain knowledge and insight. People in climates that have long stretches of dark, gray days have learned to use light therapy to keep depression and seasonal affective disorder at bay. But mostly, we’re putting a name to what we already know instinctively: Light makes us happy.

—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

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