That’s How the Light Gets In*
It’s been dark.
It’s been dark and it’s been cold.
It’s been dark and it’s been cold and it’s been windy.
Both light and warmth seem squeezed out of the day, each day unfolding a little colder, a little less hospitable, a little shorter.
The brilliant synchronicity of the planet is readying us for the inevitability of the return of the light, we hope and think.
When I was a little Jewish kid growing up in the dominantly gentile over-culture of Scranton, Pennsylvania in the 1950’s, I was fascinated by the Christmas lights. My dad would drive us through the gentile areas of town most decorated; we would ogle at the decorations.
I remember my mom in the car, silent, her lack of approval thick in the air. Not my dad, he was a fan, out there in the world he was not invited into, wanting what wasn’t his.
I am my father’s daughter.
The lights, as attractive and as foreign to me as the fancy big old houses they adorned, were mesmerizing. I didn’t really like them. I just wanted them—I knew they represented some status, some something, that I could never own or achieve.
Flashing reindeer and jolly Santa clauses, elves, and bushels of toys…these were not promised to little Jewish kids back then, oh, no.
We only had the miracle of the Chanukah lights. The oil found in the destroyed temple was just enough for one day. Yet lasted eight days, eight whole days, we are told.
As a kid, miraculous oil was not so compelling; I wanted the promise of a jolly Santa clause coming down the chimney we didn’t have and all he might deliver.
Today, several billion decades later, thank goodness I am able to appreciate the miracle of the oil, the miracle of the Chanukah lights, the miracle of the magical number 8, the number of transcendence.
Today I choose transcendence over the promise of an elusive Santa clause.
Beyond the normal. Beyond the physical. The ordinary.
I believe in transcendence, that, from accepting the human, the divine is accessible.
I believe in breakdown as the doorway to rebirth, I do.
I have been carried through so much loss, I have.
I have always found my way, no matter what, I have.
Yet the darkness this year feels to me intense, thick, dense.
I am struggling bitterly with the self-perceived darkness in my life, how “my plan” isn’t unfolding as “I hoped.”
Darkness is the key.
Darkness is the gift.
It is in the darkness that the transcendence, the change, the rebirth occurs.
Marcel Proust says:
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.
Complete destruction opens into rebirth.
The darkness will be the container, the backdrop into which the return of the light unfolds.
The breakdown will be the grounding for the transformation.
The shattered dream will be the doorway to new possibility, not of our making.
It is inevitable—December 21, the light is returning.
It is written—through the shattering of our hearts and the cracking open of our dreams, rebirth beyond our wildest dreams will occur.
Leonard Cohen, bless him, our dear Leonard, who had enough sense to die on November 7, 2016, right as Donald J. Trump was being elected—says it.
He says it.
Here is Anthem, from his extraordinary 2008 London tour:
The crack is how the light gets in.
Darkness and light,
May your holiday season be filled with relaxed ease.
May we soften into both the darkness as well as the light, the loss as well as the birth, the heartbreak as well as the renewal.
May we honor our fear as well as our faith, our anxiety as well as our capacity to trust.
May we relax into whatever we are given.
To you and yours on this holiday season,
No matter what we are given.