So why do we celebrate the birth of the true Light that gives light to every man at this time of year? Because thanks to a quirk in the Earth's axis some associate with the Fall of mankind, the solar year is divided into a half year of decreasing length of days followed by a half year of increasing length of days. The celebration of Christ's entry into the world is timed to coincide with the cosmological gift of increasing hours of sunlight.
We like to believe people are good, although broken. We like to give one another room for differing points of view. We like to believe we all tell the truth to the best of our ability and respect boundaries and play nice, and that we all have one another's best interests at heart.
And when someone slips, we call it human nature and overlook it if it doesn't hurt us too much. We prefer to think of such conduct as bad manners, rooted in ignorance rather than intention to do harm. In the worst case, we can tell ourselves that we are taking the high road by showing mercy those who seem to have none. Sometimes, though, human nature takes our breath away--not in a good way, but in a "I-just-took-a-hard-fall-and-got-the-breath-knocked-out-of-me" kind of way. We sit in the dark on the pavement waiting through that long night for our respiration to resume. We hear only our own shocked silence as we adjust to a clarity of consciousness that encompasses a wider range of human behavior than we wanted to believe possible. Yet perhaps that silence is what we need to hear the still small voice telling us to "fear not," there in the dark.
For the light is coming.
The divine light of Christ is eternal. His all-embracing love is forever true. In him, there is more than enough for everyone. Yet where the brightest light is shed, the deepest shadows are cast. His light reveals all that is true and all that is not true, including the darkness hiding in our human nature.
Now that I'm gaining more wisdom--read that as accumulating years on this planet--I begin to see my own error in consistently hiding the darkness inherent in "human nature" behind my perceptions of poor etiquette, careless boundaries, or various mental health diagnoses in others. Sometimes the darkness is simply that: dark. Sometimes it runs deep. Sometimes the light reveals it in others around us, sometimes within us.
The limitation of life and love is the mother of all scarcity. The black hole of the world originates either in the fear of death, or the belief that God can love only those who resemble us. If we believe only what our eyes can see, human life is short, and there is never enough: time, money, love, or attention. And from the darkness of scarcity, soul-selfishness, envy, spite, greed and hatred are born. All natural human attempts to manipulate others to meet our unending needs by way of threat--or to control them through accusations, lies and slander--originate in that darkness.
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."
Fear not, for the gift of light is growing. Listen to the angels singing with the stars up in that cold sky. And if you've never taken the gift of light seriously, consider what a limitless gift it will be when you open up to the light and begin to share it around.
Peace on Earth, goodwill to men . . .