All that sparkles, shines and glows

We got our first snowfall this week. The longterm forecast predicts warmer days with rain, so this won't last but it's the first taste.

We like snow. It what makes skiing and snowboarding possible. Plus, it's almost December. And snow in December feels right.

Advent starts this Sunday. I'm using Watch for the Light for my personal Advent contemplation. And I think we'll use Richard Rohr's Preparing for Christmas for our family Advent devotions. Which, by the way, we are never consistent with (just thought I'd add that).

As is the tradition in the Tougas household, the celebration of Brienne's birthday this weekend will usher in the holiday season in our home. (Just a reminder, Canadians don't celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday. We celebrate Thanksgiving in October.)

the kids went to a masquerade birthday party last weekend
it was such a pleasure for me to watch them making their masks
just like when they were little and spent most of their days "making stuff"

This year all the kids are in a Christmas choir with homeschool co-op and Brienne is a cast member of a Christmas musical theatre production with performances this weekend and next.

A month from now we will drive to Nova Scotia for our yearly celebration with my family. Between now and then the calendar is full of holiday performances, an end of term potluck at co-op, and my favorite, the Handels Messiah sing-along at Christ Church Cathedral downtown. And of course, the Gilmore Girls reunion.

I often write something around this time of year about the light and dark of this season. A darkness that is both physical, in the shortening days, and spiritual in how we sense the weight of the world.

In the past few weeks I have really noticed the days getting darker, in the physical sense. But so many of us feel an emotional and spiritual darkness also. Which is why I make an effort to notice and capture all that sparkles, shines and glows.

The holiday season, Advent, the month of December is a time of year that beckons me to recognize the principles of a both/and life. A life of contemplation and celebration. A life of busy kids and thoughtful meditations. A life of light and dark.

Light and dark is our physical, external existence but it is also our inner reality. I carry both light and dark in me. We all do. We know our bright shining spots (I hope!), but also our darkness.

When we acknowledge that we are both light and dark, we can celebrate and honor the light we carry and the light in others, and (I hope!) shine love on the darkness in our own hearts and the darkness we see in others. Love is the true light in our lives and it is the only thing that has power over darkness, the only thing that can bring light, permanently, to the dark areas of our hearts, our families, our communities, and our society.

This is the message of Advent. And I love that the cycle of the earth, the seasons themselves teach us this truth. And then, what is so interesting to me, is that as we respond to the darkness with our lights and celebrations our very natural human responses teach us spiritual lessons, if we are willing to listen, to pay attention, to notice.

For me this time of year is ripe with spiritual significance and meaning. And this meaning is found not just in the story of the Christ-child, which is central to my faith, but in Nature herself, and in humankind and our responses to dark and light.

I look for light everywhere this time of year. I take photos of sun reflecting off the drying dishes. I plan my walks to correspond with the golden hour of the setting sun.

Every string of lights I see this time of year speaks of the heart's desire to push back the dark with light. Every candle we light. Even the over-the-top holiday decorations at the malls, the ones we bemoan for their commercialism, even those lights speak truth.

We hang lights. Light candles. We revel in the shiny and sparkly, the light catchers and light makers.

Where we find darkness we bring more light. And we start by being light bearers to our own hearts. Allowing the Light to expose our darkness and letting Love do its work of redemption, re-birth and transformation.

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