Today is the Winter Solstice. Pagans call this Yule and celebrate the birth of the Sun King. This is also the time that the Christian Church chose to celebrate the birth of Christ as their own Son King.
I think, more than ever, we must remember what this holiday is about. In terms of the seasonal celebration, the world around us has turned bitter cold, we have made our preparations for the cold, dark winter ahead and we hope and pray it is enough to see us through. This holiday serves to remind us all that, although we see darkness all around, the sun has not gone completely away. The spark of new hope, fragile and small, is still with us. It flickers like a candle flame, growing ever so slowly until it will burst forth into a new spring.
I cannot begin to count the times I have witnessed the seasonal changes being reflected in the greater (seemingly) mundane world us. However, I have never seen that correlation so incredibly obvious or far-reaching before. As we look at the state of our country .. indeed, our world ... we are confronted by a constant stream of despair. We have friends and family divided, ignorance glorified and education vilified, hate-groups gaining a voice while minorities are silenced. Instead of caring for our fellow human-beings, we see suspicion, judgement, and cruelty. Instead of a leadership that should help us find solutions, we are faced with politicians who are concerned only with power, money, and their own tattered shards of reputation. Such is the cold, dark winter that has us firmly in its grasp.
But this is the Winter Solstice, and there is, even now, a small spark of hope. The Sun King has found rebirth and will rise once more to new life in the Spring. You can see Him now in small acts of kindness someone goes out of their way to do. He is present when a stranger stands to protect someone from harassment. He's found in the drive many now have to get involved in politics and public service, some for the first time in their lives. He is a generation of children who don't seem to understand why being LGBT was ever that big of a deal.
Yes, the coming winter will be harsh indeed. But, regardless of your belief system, look around for the traces of hope manifest in the world right now. The darkness can hide many things, but it is when things are at their darkest that even the smallest flicker of light be the brightest beacon of hope.