The Season of Light

We all felt like summer might never end! There were plenty of warm, October days, and even into November there were weekends that just begged to be spent outdoors, soaking up the sun. With the time change, and the preparations and passing of Halloween and Day of the Dead, I started noticing all of the lights in the windows and ads and decorations in the stores, and realized that yes, the holiday season is coming toward us, faster than ever. I pulled out my phone and reminded myself to get some lights for the apartment, candles for the spinner and to hold off on the eggnog latte until after Thanksgiving (almost made it). The “Season of Light” was on its way.

The future seems to be coming toward us at record speed, with unprecedented impressions from media, advertisers, overachieving bloggers; even the Muni buses remind us that we need tickets to the next concert or museum exhibition. All I want to do is hold still and remember the past, which seems to stretch out forever and become timeless in its history. I want to stay there. I want to stay in the warm embrace of the smell of autumn cooking. I would like to return to the pumpkin patch with my small children, pick apples and bake crisp until we all cry, ‘Enough already!’ But, as we know, we can’t go back. We can’t just sit there and let the future roll right over us, either.

So we do things to help us dance with the future, and create the memories that become our past. One of the ways we do this in school is to measure the year by acknowledging and celebrating festivals in a way that strive to make a common experience for all of us to share.

The festivals create a calendar and a rhythm for us at school. The festivals you celebrate at home do the same for your family. Sometimes there is overlap between school and home, and sometimes not. We try to find the essentials in each festival, and invite all to participate. As we lit candles in early December and I gazed at the faces of the students beautifully illuminated by candlelight, I was reminded what this “Season of Light” is all about. The light is in all of us. That light which is us in our truest form, in our essence, which is love, both simple and complex. Let us remember that love, and recognize and see the higher nature of everything with which we come into contact - our family, children, friends, people we don’t necessarily get along with, colleagues, our schools, places of worship, cultural organizations - everyone and everything holds the essential spark of this Season of Light. Each person in our lives, each entity we partner with has a higher being that is always there, and wanting to come forward. We just have to love them, figure out how to lift any obstacles to letting it come forward, and love the process. It’s what we strive to do here as teachers, every day.

Festivals are an opportunity to stay centered and focus on essentials, especially when the burdens and distractions of the media barrage begin to feel heavy. Attention to differences rather than commonalities can obscure the light of a relationship or situation; festivals bring us together and can renew the light of the relationship. Through conscious participation in festivals, we celebrate the growth of our families in a familiar and welcome rhythm.

Many joys to you and all of your families, near and far, in this Season of Light and in the New Year.

The gift of Light
We thankfully take
But it shall be
Not alone for our sake
The more we give light
The one to the other
The more that it glows
And spreads ever farther.
Until every heart
By love set aflame
In every place
Great Joy shall proclaim
Not long will continue
The dark of the year.
The Light draws near.

- Lisa Sargent, Grade School Music Teacher