CfA's Op Ed

Lighting Up the Darkness

by Beth Robbins

Beth Robbins, a graduate of the Waldorf Program at Antioch University New England and a high school teacher at the Berkshire Waldorf High School, offered these thoughts during a festival assembly at her school to mark the holiday season at end of the calendar year.

This is the season of light. Which is a paradoxical way to describe––at least here in the northern hemisphere––the darkest time of the year. So, what does it mean to refer to this time as the season of light?

To use an example you all will know: you enter a dark room, light a match or click the flashlight button on your phone, and suddenly the room is illuminated. The light overcomes, in other words, the darkness.

All the celebrations during this cold dark season recognize the power of light: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice. But light is more than what is given off by the sun or a match or a flashlight. Light is wisdom. Light is illumination of all kinds. And in our world we all need light. We all need the spark of illumination. Of wisdom. Light stimulates sight and makes things visible. Light allows us to see––and not only literally.

Hanukkah, one of the many holidays during this season, celebrates miracles. A small army overcoming a more powerful one. A small amount of oil that miraculously lasts for eight days. The holiday begins with one little candle, and then over the course of eight nights the one small light grows into two and then three and so on, before culminating in eight candles shining a glorious bright light. All made up of smaller lights, of course.

The figure “8” is a number beyond time. A number of divinity. It speaks of the infinite. Turned on its side, the “8” is a lemniscate, a symbol of infinity. A balanced life moves between the inner and the outer. Of course, there is that moment when you are poised between the outer and the inner. You take a breath. You rest. Pause. You move out into the world and offer what you can, before gathering from the outside and bringing it back into yourself. It is movement without end. The inner and outer in a dance never ceasing.

In this time of darkness of many kinds, I think it possible that, with patience, you can increase the light. In this season of light.