The Legacy Of Light In Dark Times
Here we are at the beginning of the darkest month of the year. It isn’t surprising that in December we celebrate light. In Christian and Jewish tradition, the holidays of Christmas and Chanukah celebrate light – lighting candles and decorating trees and homes are ways we add light in this month when in the northern hemisphere we have the fewest hours of light.
The Bible begins: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep…. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”
In the modern psychological world, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is defined as a form of depression in response to fewer hours of daylight. It is found rarely in people who live close to the equator and is more common the farther away from it you live. Treatment is daily exposure to bright light through a full-spectrum light source.
What can we share with future generations about the importance of light? We can pass down family traditions of celebrations of light, but more important is what we can share about a broader understanding of light – searching for the darkness within and replacing it with light, and ways to bring light to others through our acts of kindness, respect, and love.
Others have said it better than I, so I’ll conclude with their inspirational words about light for you to reflect on in preparation for a December legacy letter bringing light to those you love in this dark month.
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”
– Carl Jung
“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”
– Albert Schweitzer
“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”
– Maya Angelou
“You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world.”
– Oprah Winfrey
“Travel light, live light, spread light, be the light.”
– Yogi Bhajan
“I am in the world feeling my way to light ‘amid the encircling gloom.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
“A book should be a ball of light in one’s hand.”
– Ezra Pound
“Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.”
– Leonard Cohen
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it… Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
– Brene Brown
“It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.”
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Reflect about light: in December, in celebration, your feelings about physical light and what it means to you. Then read the words of others and reflect on those that have a particular message for you, and their connections to your emotional, mental, spiritual, and communal life.
- Then choose someone(s) you want to write a legacy letter of light to. Your letter may be to pass down family traditions about light, something you learned about yourself as you reflected on the words of wisdom about light, or a discovery about your own light (and/or darkness. Write a draft of your letter, and put the draft away for a day or so, staying present to additional thoughts, memories, or understanding that come to you as time passes.
- Write your letter and offer it as a light this December to those you choose.
“May your legacy letter add light to the darkness and waning light of December, and provide a “full spectrum of light” to you and those you love.”
– Rachael Freed
Rachael Freed, LICSW, senior fellow, Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing, University of Minnesota, is the author of Your Legacy Matters, Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies and Heartmates: A Guide for the Partner and Family of the Heart Patient. Rachael Freed firstname.lastname@example.org and www.life-legacies.com