Turn On the Light: A Meditation at the Turning of the Year

Sara Spahr StubbsWhen I was younger, it seemed that the shifting of the clock one hour ahead or behind had little effect on me.  But, as I have grown older, I have noticed I am much more sensitive to that change of the clock, and now I find myself looking out the window at the darkness around me and wondering if it is time for bed around 7:00 in the evening!  Soon, we will experience that one day of the year with the fewest hours of daylight, and then the days will grow slightly longer again.

In our work, we meet people who are experiencing some sort of darkness.  Failing health, an unexpected stay in the hospital, emergency surgery, injury, family struggles, financial questions, uncertainty, a terminal illness, grief, loss, pain, broken relationships, addiction, and on the list goes…the people around us are hurting, and we are called to walk alongside them.  In their struggles, there are times that we see ourselves because chaplains are also people who experience chapters of darkness.

Darkness affects us physically, but we have also learned in our life’s journey that emotional darkness can take its toll on us as well.  When we find ourselves in a dark chapter, it can be tough to see a way through it and we begin to wonder if the darkness will ever end.  In the third Harry Potter book, the students were experiencing a tough time, and Hogwarts’ Headmaster Dumbledore gave them this wise thought:  “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

As you reflect on this past year, I wonder what stands out to you about your experiences.  Where have you found joy this year?  What periods of darkness have you known in these 12 months?  How have you turned on the light during those dark times?  Who has been a light for you when you needed it?

2017 will soon be here, but we don’t have to rush through this month and forget that 2016 ever happened.  Take stock of your year and ask yourself what the journey of these months has brought to you.  Whether it has been good or tough, it is important for us to take time to reflect on what has been meaningful and helpful.  For whatever lies ahead for you, take Dumbledore’s advice so that wherever you go you can remember to “turn on the light.”  May you know peace wherever the journey leads

– Chaplain Sara Spahr Stubbs, BCC


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