Aren’t humans amazing animals? I was grumpy when I woke this morning and I really wanted to hibernate longer. Then I thought, “Know what? – We enjoy the season of darkness when we Imagine the Light!”
I got right out of bed because I’d found my theme for this post and I wanted to get to work. I find great joy in my creative activities because I love exercising my imagination. Do you enjoy using your imagination? How?
Quite a few philosophers and thinkers believe the quality that separates humans from other animals is their ability to imagine. We are especially good at imagining future delights even in the darkest days. Imagination is the gift from God that keeps us going when the going gets rough.
Most cultures dealt with the darkest part of the year by finding ways to imagine the Light. Whether they are called Christmas, Hanukah, Winter Solstice, Kwanza, Brumalia, Saturnalia or any other winter celebration, the common ingredient is honoring the Light.
Think about Christmas for a moment. There are the Christmas tree lights, candles, outside house decorations, fireplaces, Yule logs, and tee shirts with Rudolph’s nose all lit up. In some homes, fancy desserts are set on fire just for fun.
Long before the Christians celebrated the birth of the baby Jesus, the Romans honored Saturnus who was the God of sunny harvest and Mithras who was the ancient God of Light. The Egyptians honored the rebirth of the Sun and many of our customs are taken from these earlier religions.
None of this is news. Scholars have traced the trappings of our biggest shopping holiday to customs from earlier times in Europe and the Middle East. But the universality of bowing down and imagining returning light is something to think about.
How We Imagine The Light
We use the word light to mean spiritual light as well as physical light without any apparent contradiction or difficulty. That’s because we are able to imagine that our spiritual nature and our physical nature are the same. Religious Science founder, Dr. Ernest Holmes, says that the greatest discovery of all times is that our minds are connected to the Great Mind.
It took a spiritual leader like Holmes to see it and put it in words, but at some level, people have always known that the Life Force depends on the Creative Energy of an Invisible Force we call God. It shows up in the old and new stories that we tell one another.
Most of those ancient stories were probably imagined in the time of darkness as we huddled under our robes in the cold caves of our particular clan’s youth. Those stories often looked forward to better times. There were many, many tales about the return of the sun and springtime. Our human storytellers, whether we call them priests or shamans articulated the connection between Sprit, Mind and Body long before books were even invented. They quite unself–consciously imagined the light.
I am happy to celebrate this season by imagining the light. I am also very happy celebrate the imagination that creates the stories about the return of the light. I believe in hope and faith and happiness. I believe the stories are true to the nature of life. I started last year’s holiday letter with my drawing and a quote from Barbara Kingsolver, “No matter what kind of night you are having, morning always wins.”
One of my favorite things about Christmas is the retelling of the Nativity story. I love the words and music. I also love the poem, Twas The Night Before Christmas, and Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, O Henry’s Gift of the Magi. I especially love the great movies like Miracle on 34th Street, A Connecticut Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life.
Of all of these, It’s A Wonderful Life has the most powerful message. I see clearly that the real hero of the drama is not Clarence, the Angel or George Bailey, the despondent protagonist. The real hero is the way our imagination straightens out our belief systems.
This year, when you watch that classic flick, think about how in the beginning, George’s imagination is out of control and how the plot of the movie is about his recovery of balance and light.
This is a season of celebration and it is also a busy, confusing season for many of us. I solved nearly all of my issues by refusing to play the game. I don’t decorate or exchange gifts but I do go to parties and listen to beautiful music. I keep control of my imagination and do what I want to do when I want to do it. I realize that is a radical position but it works for me. I am not suggesting you to follow my practice.
However, I want you to find your own balance and light. I challenge you to use your own imagination this season. What would bring love and light and happiness into your life? What do you want to do? What do you want to skip? Think ahead and keep your mind focused on the Light.
Use your God-given imagination and see the Light! Enjoy the season in your own way. Keep it bright and fun-filled. Keep it economically sensible. Remember you are in charge of your choices. Remember you are balanced and able to choose what you want in your own wonderful life.
I know these are days that can be dark for some people but remember you are created in the image and likeness of God. God is love and light and God lives in your life. There are times when it may be difficult to believe that it really is a wonderful life and that’s when our imagination comes into play. No matter how dark it is, the human spirit can find ways to see and believe in a better future.
Do I enjoy using my imagination?
What are my favorite parts of the Christmas season?
What customs do I want to drop?