Minute Meditations

The People Who Walk in Darkness

We do our brothers and sisters, perhaps even ourselves, a great disservice at Christmastime if we pretend that the holidays are all sweetness and light. The holidays can be extremely difficult for people for myriad reasons. The loss of loved ones, loneliness, mental health issues, being far away from family, and working long hours in jobs that don’t slow down because it’s Christmas are just a few that come to mind. In many ways the worst thing about feeling lost in the darkness is the belief that everyone around us is enjoying the bright lights, the happy music, the united families, and all the rest. The loneliness and isolation can compound the sadness. The prophet Isaiah is the most consistent voice through the Advent and Christmas season. And he speaks most eloquently to those who are lost in the dark. He preached to the people of Israel in the eighth century BC, when most of them were exiled in Babylon, far from their homes. He knew about people who walk in darkness. The hope offered by the Scriptures is no easy-but-empty promise that there are brighter days ahead. It’s a deep, heartfelt belief that God’s light can penetrate the most profound darkness. It’s a hope we can cling to in the dark, in the silence, in the loneliness. We are blessed if we have people who stay with us in these difficult times when words fail and all seems lost. And we know that for some, God’s great light won’t break upon their darkness in this world. But we believe that one day all will surely walk in that light.

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

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3 thoughts on “The People Who Walk in Darkness”

  1. Arlene B. Muller

    I especially remember one Christmas–I think it was 1989. A few days before Christmas a friend from my prayer group who had a neuromuscular disease suddenly died of a stroke. Her daughter had gotten married a few months before. I was very upset with GOD about it, because this young woman would always have the memory of her first married Christmas as the Christmas her mother died. I could not understand why GOD would allow this to happen in this way. This just didn’t make sense that this sadness should mar Christmas–especially a young couple’s first married Christmas. It still doesn’t. But I guess from the perspective of heaven, my friend had been freed from her neuromuscular disease and hopefully was now home in heaven to celebrate the LORD’S birthday face to face. I don’t know if I had thought of that perspective at the time, but I did acknowledge that although I personally felt & told the LORD that He had lousy timing & that what happened was bad, GOD was still good.
    The LORD comforted me in a few ways. On Christmas Eve I served as lector at the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass & I was able to carry the statue of the Infant Jesus in the Entrance Procession.
    On Christmas morning my parents & I visited two ladies who were sisters, one of whom was suffering from cancer. The visit that I understood as a good deed that I had anticipated being depressing was just the opposite–they served us coffee & a variety of cookies & what I thought was going to be our ministering to them turned out to be their ministering to us!
    In the loss of my friend I felt this need to hold a baby & part of this was relieved by carrying the statue of the Infant Jesus in the procession. But it was relieved even more later on Christmas Day. The previous March my cousin Danny, the son of my cousin Dennis & his wife Mary had been born & on Christmas afternoon we gathered at my Aunt Marion’s home & I was able to hold Danny & he was actually happy to be held by me.
    So this is how the LIGHT OF CHRIST penetrated what was initially a dark Christmas for me!

  2. I truly feel this. Being chronically sick, and this year having been very challenging, it’s hard to be happy when you have certain limitations. I am happy for others to feel joy but I can’t help to feel sad of my lack of.

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