Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Season of Lights

It's Christmas Eve, the day before the day chosen to remember the birth of a baby.

It's popular to think of Christmas as being the "reason for the season," but as anyone who knows their history and theology knows, the winter celebration is about more than Jesus.

It is the season of lights.

The deepest, darkest day of winter, the Winter Solstice, has always been an important day for humans. That's when the new year used to begin. That's when the days would begin to grow longer, and the promised return of spring became real. It's unfortunate that over the centuries the calendar has been adjusted, corrected and manipulated so that the new year no longer falls on Winter Solstice.

And it has also been the custom to celebrate the arrival of kings and man-gods on Winter Solstice. Jesus is just the latest to receive this honor, although again, various circumstances have skewed things so that Christmas misses Winter Solstice on the modern calendar by four days.

And we cannot overlook Hanukkah, another religious tradition that recognizes the despair of darkness, and the hope of light.

It is no accident that all of these things come at this time of year. This is the season of lights, a time when all of us can celebrate the changing of the season, the elongation of days, and the return of light. With the new year come new opportunity and hope.

New Orleanians are experiencing this in a very special way this year. Having had our city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, we are more than ready for a new beginning. We're ready to close out 2005, a year that will reside in the history of catastrophe next to 1965 and 1927.

We're looking for any sign of help, any indication that this winter will end soon, and that our city will again bloom.

The darkness is inescapable. Whole areas of the city, neighborhoods and boulevards that used to be lit up with life are now dark. Even the street lamps are off. Even the porch lights are extinguished.

To celebrate this season of lights, some of us have put up the traditional holiday decorations. In the part of the city where I now reside, the "sliver by the river," there are homes and businesses with bright and colorful Christmas lights. And why not? We need the light. We crave the light.

I continue to cling to the belief that the light is coming. I have hope this season of lights will be the threshold to better things, the birth of a new year that will bring a new New Orleans.

Happy Holidays to all.


Polimom said...

That is beautiful, Tim.

It IS the season of lights; when we dare to hope again. This year just requires more daring.

But the renewal and light will come. They always do.

Happy Holidays to you and yours, too.

dillyberto said...

Great piece of thoughtful holiday reflection. Happy holiday, sir. You've got a great blog

Schroeder said...

Nice touch. A fine piece of writing. Thanks.

Laurie said...

From reading your blog and the news (from, I know the city has come a long way. I can't wait for next Christmas to be able to read this post and be even more amazed at how far the city will have come by next holiday season. Let there be light!

Anonymous said...

My son is planning on returning this week and a handful of their friends from home who attend other universities are going down and staying with them for New Years (in the "sliver on the river"). When he went down in November, he called me from I-10 to say how shocking it was to see the vast expanses of dark where suburbs used to be. But I've read online (was it here?) about FEMA trailers adorned with Christmas lights, which somehow speaks to me about the beauty and character that is NOLA. Keep writing about it, Tim. You're telling an important story. We'll keep reading.