The bright-sadness of Christmas

What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by.  The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.”   

John 1: 3-5 (the Message).

 This Christmas season I feel a sadness, a numbness that goes beyond just having the holiday blues.  Rather it’s a middle-aged mourning that has crept into my soul and is feasting on my joy.

There is nothing in particular for me to be sad about.  My marriage is intact, my business is succeeding, I have an amazing friend who is pure gift, and four super children.  I am safe.  Life is good.

I try to push the sorrow aside busying myself with work but it has become too familiar and won’t go away.  For days the sadness has been haunting me. So, I stop and wonder if this gloominess has something to teach me. Asking for wisdom, I ponder in prayer what’s beneath this grieving.

Perhaps I mull over, I’m sad because what I really want for Christmas I can’t have.

I want peace in the world. I want Assad to stop bombing and killing his citizens.  I want Israel and Palestine to put down their weapons and arms and become like the lion lying down with the lamb.

I want senseless acts of violence to cease and people to stop shooting innocent children.  I want our government leaders to stop creating class warfare and work for the good of all people instead of for political advantage.

I want my brother and sisters and I to get along and love each other again like when we were children.  I want the marketplace to stop being such a place of strife.  I want people to care about each other again out of love, not out of survival.

I want our news shows to stop reporting about how bad we are, to stop rubbing our noses in the evil of human nature and tell us once again about how good we are and how we are caring for each other.

And I want to be a better person than I am today.  I want the noise in my head to quiet itself so I can live out of a place of freedom and love, instead of out of fear.

I want to experience God more deeply, to know that he exists and that the world is not going to end when the Mayan calendar runs out.  I want to know in my heart and trust that God is infinitely patient with us and with his help we are evolving into the kind of creation he created us to be.

But I can’t make any of the things I want for Christmas come true.  And so I feel powerless. Sad.  And the fact that I can’t do anything more to change the world than spilling these words onto this page makes me sometimes even angry.

I sit in quiet listening for the Light within me to speak.  Nothing comes.  No words of wisdom soothe my sadness.  And so I fall asleep at the end of another day with the question nagging me, “How do I cope in this troubled angry world?”

The answer doesn’t come in one word or phrase.  Instead it rises up within me as I awake the next morning.  The words unfurl on my heart like a tapestry sewing a patchwork.  There’s no magic answer to this bright sadness, it seems, rather it’s an attitude, a perspective I’m invited to absorb.  This new perspective would look something like this:

  • Live in the now—in the present moment—that is where God’s presence is revealing itself to you.
  • Be aware.  Be awake to all the beauty that surrounds you in people, in nature, in yourself. And when you notice the beauty, lift up your heart to the Creator and give thanks.
  • Listen to your soul, the tiny whisper in your gut that speaks from the voice of love.
  • Let go of having to be responsible for changing the world.  Instead live the ripple effect: change yourself and watch the change within you become the change you wish to see in the world.
  • When bad things come or people are mean, acknowledge the hurt and then let it go, let your higher self absorb the pain and give it to God.
  • Trust God.  Although the turmoil around you can be tumultuous at times, trust that God is with you.
  • Remember to laugh.  Laughter is your soul’s way of shaking off the dust of the world.
  • Don’t let the evil of the world hide the good that exists.
  • Don’t let your Light go out.  Remember the Light will always outshine the darkness and overcome it.

I guess that is what Christmas is about this year for me: remembering that even in the midst of the darkness of the world, God saw fit to bring a baby boy into our midst to show us the Light; to remind us that love wins, good triumphs and God is with us.

And so I accept the tension of good and evil in the world, knowing that in this bright sadness you and I are part of that promise, we are the Lights that outshine the darkness.  And all we have to do is believe.


Game Plan:  How do you deal with the darkness of the world?  How do you hold the tension between good and evil?  Do you believe that you are the Light, a Light that shines out of the darkness?  How can you share that Light with yourself and others today?

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