This time of year is special, and has been for a long time; and I mean a VERY long time. For almost four billion years, these have been the longest nights of the year for life in the northern hemisphere, marking the season when the days finally begin to grow longer. This is when we celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Yule, Dōngzhì, and the list goes on through all of human history, with hundreds of current festivals and probably thousands more lost forever in antiquity, and that is just human history, a blink of the eye of less than 50,000 years, a tiny fraction of the four billion year history of life on earth.
At some unfathomable level, we are wired for hope to spring forth with this return of the light, the metaphorical birth of the sun. The roots of our nervous systems that we share with the ancient crocodile, the most fundamental building blocks of our bodies that we share with the mighty oak, they all reverberate with this change in the season, the promise of the return of warmth and life.
There are ancient symbols that resonate with our souls this season, evergreens that are full of life even in the darkest winter, candles and twinkling lights and glowing stars lighting the way; and the ultimate symbol of hope, the birth of a child. With Horus, then Mitra, and now Jesus, for tens of thousands of years we have celebrated the birth of a child that will bring light to our world
The message is always the same. We can be warm. We can be safe. There is hope. It’s a very good message.