Looking back on this year as it draws to a close, 2020 seems like nothing if not a year of uncertainty and shattered expectations. A year when all the familiar rhythms of life were torn away, a year of fear and loss and disconnection, anger and division. A year of life put on hold.
How do you find light in the darkness? How do you find reason for joy when there is so much suffering in the world?
This in fact is exactly the message of Christmas, beyond the religious trappings or materialistic appropriation.
Right now we have just passed the winter solstice, the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. Where I am writing these words, on the coast of southern Mexico, this fact seems like more of an astronomical abstraction. But in other parts of the world, farther from the equator, it’s now bitterly cold, and sunrise and sunset draw close as if reaching for each other.
In the time of outer darkness, nearly every culture in the world has chosen to celebrate light.
Last week the Jewish people of the world lit the last Hanukah candles. Scandinavian girls adorned themselves with crowns of candles. Iranian families gathered to spend the solstice night eating, burning fires and reading poetry. Now we celebrate the birth of Christ, the light of Oneness Consciousness blossoming within a world of darkness.
From a yogic perspective, Christmas is a true non-dual holiday. The light is not separate from the darkness. Christ is the Son of Man as much as he is the Son of God, and he doesn’t come to erase the world or take us out of it, but to illuminate it.
How? By teaching that every single one of us has this light inside. We all carry it within us, and no matter what happens on the outside, that light of truth is untouched. We can ignore it, repress it, forget about it—but the moment we choose to remember it again, it’s there for us and for everyone around us.
This Christmas, you might not be able to celebrate surrounded by friends and family. The most maybe you can do is decorate your own tree and talk to your loved ones’ faces through a screen. And yet you don’t need anything outside yourself to celebrate light.
You, just as you are, here and now. Remember yourself. Remember the pulse of life in your heart, that pure feeling of “I am” that never began and never goes away. It is the birth of Christ. Joy for no cause, hope with no cause, and a simple message from God to humanity—so simple, we often miss it in search of something more elaborate: love.
Just love. That’s all.