I'm looking at the twinkling lights on my Christmas tree. And the Angel who sits atop. One of my friends calls me his Angel.
No – not in any romantic way; that would be entirely inappropriate. He calls me his Angel of Light because he's going through a tough time at the moment and my daily Facebook posts and light-hearted messages bring light and joy into his day.
Myself – I think I'm more of a glow worm than an angel. As the little poem by Taylor Russel goes:
Oh I wish I was a glow worm,
for a glow worm's never glum,
'cause how can you be grumpy,
when the sun shines out your bum!
But regardless of the differences between angels and glow worms we all know the importance of light. Just ask anyone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Four days ago was the shortest day for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. And the longest night. It is not a co-incidence that the feast of Christmas falls three days after the planet starts tipping towards the sun again. That's counting it as starting Christmas Eve, naturally.
Even before the early Christians adopted this date for their own it was already an important pagan festival marking the rebirth of the sun after the darkest part of the year. All mankind recognises how essential is light; and with light, warmth. I think we who suffer with depression understand this more profoundly than most.
Today is Christmas – or most accurately, the day of Christ's Mass. One of the many names for Jesus is The Light of the World and Isaiah speaks of this in a passage often read at Christmas:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has shone.
What powerful imagery is this for those of us who, if not permanent residents, are all too familiar with that land of darkness?
One of my favourite prayers is said in the Anglican service of Evening Prayer. It too is about light.
"Lighten our darkness we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers and dangers of this night, for the love of your only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ."
The imagery of light is not limited to religion. We speak of the light of knowledge. Amnesty International use the phrase, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." And I know that when I was going through my dark time recently, those lovely people who said they would come and sit with me in my emotional dungeon, just holding a candle, gave me a huge lift.
We say "You're a star!" when we want to thank someone. A star gives light and warmth. Wise men followed the star and – we're back to Christmas. It's a bit difficult to escape it right now!
So, regardless of whether you share my Christian faith, or how or indeed whether you celebrate Christmas, I wish you peace, joy and light for this feast held in the darkest portion of the year.
A Moodscope member.