Christmas 2018

A light is shining in the darkness  (John 1:5)

Yes, the light is shining in the darkness.  There is hope.  May we see that light this season, and in the year to come—a light that shines in and through the love of friends, the care we give and receive, the ways we try to better the world.

And, yes, there is darkness. We might pray this Christmas that the light of which John speaks may shine on this world, and work a softening of hardened and fearful hearts.  May that softening lead the way to stability and safe harbor for migrants and refugees, dignified housing and care for the homeless, an end to the madness of gun violence, true peace where there is war, and an end to regimes of cruelty and discrimination, especially against children, women, and the vulnerable, as well as people of every origin, race and state of life.  May that same light illumine the inner recesses of the Catholic Church so that every form of evil can be uprooted.  And may it help lead us back to some semblance of calm after a bleak period in our national political life.  In all these things, may we one day be able to say, with joy, that “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah  9:1).

Ansel Adams, El Capitan, Winter Sunrise 1968

In the midst of so much darkness, we sometimes miss seeing the good.  For life really is so grand and wonderful, far beyond telling, and there are so many ways to plunge into it, to relish it.  At times we can only express its plenitude in the language of art, music and poetry, and occasionally, in the metaphors of theology.  What an inconceivable gift is given us in the gift of human life itself: to know the ecstasy of being a creature endowed with the capacity for reflection and contemplation, a magnificent combination of mind and body, the possibility of giving and receiving love, openness to the infinite Mystery, the capacity to question—and all of this given in freedom.  How is it that we could we ever squander any of that?  May the light shine in our hearts and heal us where we need healing, and restore to us the hope and joy that we need in order to engage life to the full. 

In my own life, the light is shining in and through the love and prayers I have received from you during this time of challenge, and in the care so generously given by the medical team at Stanford.  I could not be more blessed, nor more grateful to you all. That shining light helps me live most days in active hope—not hope for a cure, but hope as living anticipation of God.  And that leads to a joy that has helped in coping with any discouragement or temptation toward fear.  What greater gifts than these? 

May you find moments of peace these days, and in the days to come, when we recall the birth of the One who is light come into the world.



1 thought on “Christmas 2018”

  1. Dear Paul,
    What a beautiful ‘share’ here. Thank you. There is much darkness and it is challenging to not get dragged into that mindset of reality. Yet I too, wake each day with gratitude for time. Time. What we believe keeps us here with others.

    I was thinking last night when I couldn’t sleep, remembering that I was in a rock band when young. I played percussion. The name of our band was “Reality.” I am trying to remember what that word meant to me in my early 20’s and what it means now, and I have to laugh since I am a philosopher who ponders such ideas as my profession!

    What I think I know is that your friendship is ‘light’ to so many, Paul. Right now reality may be harsh at times but that you take time to be grateful is inspiring. I am so grateful you are in my reality in this time.


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