By Lewis .J. Walker, CFP®
December is about light. Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is observed this year from December 6 to the 14th. The celebration commemorates the victory of the ancient Israelites over the Syrian Greek army and the return of the menorah to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Testimony to God's grace, one vial of oil was found with only enough oil for one day. Yet it lasted for eight full days.
Prelude to Christmas, Christians celebrated Advent over four Sundays from November 29. From the Latin adventus, meaning "arrival," and venire, meaning "to come," Advent literally means "coming." Churches and homes are adorned with Advent wreaths festooned with four candles, with one candle lit each Sunday until all four are burning on the 4th Sunday. Advent wreaths originated in the folk traditions of northern Europe. As the shadows of fall lengthened, light faded and dark nights grew longer. In the depths of winter, families lit candles on wheel-shaped evergreen bundles, creating warm light and cheer in anticipation of returning sunlight come spring. Symbolizing ongoing life, candlelight and the circular shape of evergreen boughs came to be associated with the Nativity, the birth of .Jesus, the Light Of The World.
When stressed and tested midst the slings and arrows of life, we sometimes proclaim that we see the end or solution, the light at the end of the tunnel. People who have lived through a near death experience recount a feeling of moving through a tunnel with a bright light at the end. We see salvation and deliverance in terms of light. We talk of light vanquishing darkness, with the blackness of night sometimes associated with foreboding, doom, failure, damnation.
Yet, step outside, away from light sources on a dark and clear night and look up at stars too numerous to count. Og Mandino (1923-1996) was a destitute drunk , who emerged as an award-winning and inspirational self-help author. He wrote, "I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars." One .January in Vietnam early in the war, in the outer perimeter of the Tan Son Nhut airfield near Saigon, where I was on duty as an Air Force officer, just past Christmas and New Year's day, away from family and loved ones, in a dangerous place around 2 a.m. in the dark away from the light, I looked into a clear sky at a myriad of stars. I remember a feeling of peace, of spiritual love, a feeling that it will all be okay, despite the fact that in the intermediate darkness there easily could have been a squad of Viet Cong intent on killing. I remember similar feelings of peace and wonder, marveling at creation, and the good fortune of being alive, looking skyward on a dark night in the mountains of Colorado, in the Namibian desert in Africa, on the deck of a ship anchored for the night in a cove in Antarctica.
There is something about the natural world that wakens our senses. Nature speaks to us, telegraphing the powerful majesty of the Creator of all we are, see, sense, and perceive. It helps us to get outside of ourselves, motivating us to move toward the light, to deliverance and better days. J.K. Rowling, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, wrote, "We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are." If our thoughts are too self-centered, especially in a time of testing, we may lower our hopes and narrow our dreams.
From Thanksgiving though the religious celebrations of December, gatherings of family and friends, with a focus on the spiritual side of life, we gravitate to light and the longer days to come post the Winter Solstice. We wish you and yours a blessed Christmas, the joy of light, and the illumination of wisdom and meaning in the year to come.
"Let there be light." There was, and it was good.
Lewis Walker is President of Walker Capital Management, LLC. Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Walker Capital Management, LLC.