Blog Your Blessings Sunday: Light

A long time ago I lived in Ireland in Belfast, County Antrim. I loved the winters there. They were damp and cold and oh so dark. I loved winters because being out in them made coming in to the fireside all the more appealing. Whether I came in to company or quiet, the fire was warm, the light soft, and the peace wonderful.

At the onset of winter, which begins the day after Halloween in Ireland, up would go the Christmas lights in the City Center. They glowed in the soft light of sometimes foggy evenings in that wonderful city full of old, dirty buildings that recalled a prosperity long gone. The Christmas lights were a source of joy, though. They really were Christmas in that city full of people who had no money in their pockets. Christmas really was about the light.

Walking around my own little neighborhood the other evening and taking in my neighbors' displays of light, I felt the same strange peace I often felt in Belfast even when the Troubles were intense. It seemed to me then and now that whatever the differences between neighbors, a characteristic we share is a reverence for the light--icicles, nets, fiber optic trees in the window, candles....The shape hardly matters.

That brought my thoughts to the legend of the candle in the window, a traditional Irish Christmas tradition that hearkens back to the first Christmas Eve, when Mary and Joseph couldn't find a room anywhere. The candle in the window is a sign of hospitality, a way of welcoming Mary and Joseph and any traveler at all who needs a warm place to stay. In this way, the candle is a reminder to be warm, to welcome others, to consider that God is in each of us and opening the door is always an act of opening the door to God.

An Irish custom, it does of course have its political overtones. In the days when it was illegal and dangerous to practice the Catholic faith in Ireland because of the Penal Laws, the candle in the window of Irish homes at Christmas also signaled traveling priests that this was a home where they would be welcome and where they could safely conduct the traditional Irish Catholic Christmas Mass.

I'm not a Catholic; nevertheless, this part of the tradition reminds me to remain steadfast in faith even in the most difficult of times. I think it's as nice to open the doors as it is to be inside. We are blessed with choices. Beautiful choices.

Blog Your Blessings

Comments

  1. that was a beautiful and inspiring post!!!

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  2. Anonymous3:17 AM

    You are such a talented writer and you always bring a unique perspective to your readers. I really love visiting your site.

    I will be working on my Christmas post, too. Thanks for tagging me!

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  3. regardles our religion, as long as we keep the faith and the candle lit, there is a hope for all of us.

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  4. That is a wonderful post... and really allows us to live in the moment. It may sound VERY corny to you, but one of my all-time favourite Christmas albums is The Chieftains' The Bells of Dublin... which seems to wake up the spirit you speak of in me... Thanks again for sharing your words and memories.

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  5. A very interesting look at light & its origins

    light & darkness
    faith in the night

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  6. Anonymous7:21 AM

    Think about the people who do the giant light displays around their homes. Christmas must be in the light for them, too. Imagine their pure joy as car after car slowly cruises by their place checking out the wonder of it all.

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  7. Lovely as always! Happy BYB Sunday to you and your family :)

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  8. Amen to the LIGHT! My post and blessing today also references having Light! Beautiful post and memory shared!Happy BYB!

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  9. The Irish have always seemed to be a spiritual folk to me. You have a wonderful way with words and it is a blessing to come here and read them.

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  10. I love this post! Very lovely! Happy BYB Sunday.

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  11. Traditions are great and beutiful things...and being able to continue, and pass them on to the next generation is a great blessing.

    Happy BYB Sunday and have a great week ahead!

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  12. What a wonderful reflection on light as a blessing. I totally agree! Loved reading about the legend of the light.

    I'm sorry I forgot to make my draft a post yesterday and you didn't have my BYB post to read when you visited but it is up now.

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  13. This post captures the spirit of the Christmas season so nicely.

    Have a wonderful, blessing filled week.

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  14. Indeed religiosity is different from spirituality and it is indeed a blessing that we prepare ourselves with the season to come not as per religion we have but as all of God's creation.

    Have a blessed week ahead!

    PS
    I love the elf shoe poem, too!

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  15. What a beautiful post.

    The power of candles is remarkable and crosses many faiths and beliefs.

    Belated Happy BYB Sunday and have an excellent week.

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