Festival of Lights

By Jan Richardson

Winter Solstice © Jan L. Richardson

Happy Winter Solstice to you! (And a joyous Summer Solstice to my neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere!) Around the world, nearly every culture has a celebration during the darkest time of the year. Typically it’s some form of a Festival of Lights, an occasion to find illumination and cheer in a time of shadows and to anticipate the return of the sun. Today I’m particularly mindful of my Jewish sisters and brothers who will begin their celebration of Hanukkah at sundown this evening.

On this solstice day, here’s one memory of a winter’s celebration:

Festival of Lights

We are dancing in the streets of the city of my college years. The downtown is lit up for the holidays, and the music blares as our feet repeatedly hit the hard surface of the street. Tomorrow we will long for hot baths to soak the soreness from our legs, but tonight we are dancing at the Festival of Lights.

In the years to come I will learn how necessary it is to keep dancing, how celebration is not a luxury but a staple of life, how in the grimmest moments I will need to take myself down to the closest festival at hand. I will go not to drown my sorrow or to mask my despair or to ignore the real suffering of the world or of my own self. I will go to beat out the message with my feet that in the darkness we are dancing, and while we are weeping we are dancing, and our legs are aching but we are dancing. And under the night sky we are dancing; lighting a match to the shadows, we are dancing; starting to sing when they have stopped the music, we are dancing; sending shock waves with our feet to the other side of the world, we are dancing still.

As we tilt toward the bright half of the year (or toward the dark in the south), may you find much to give you cause for celebration. Blessings!

[Reflection from Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas © Jan L. Richardson.]

[To use the “Winter Solstice” image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. Thank you!]

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