When you walk down the street, where do you look? If you are like most people, you are looking at your feet, to make sure you don’t trip, to see where you are going in the next step. In everyday life, we all tend to notice only those things that are at eye level or below. Our natural inclination is to look down. It takes intention and practice to look up and notice what is above our accustomed field of vision. Teach yourself to look up, because there are lights in the heavens, stars to be seen!
To look up is an act of viewing things from a higher perspective, to see not only the details of the moment but a vision of the future. To look up is a metaphor for the ability to see opportunity in hard times, to hold fast to hope and faith, to realize that change is the only constant. Looking up can provide you a broader perspective, and the assurance of brighter things to come.
In December, many religions celebrate the looking-up themes of hope and the promise of the future. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus; Jews light Menorah candles to remember hope and the miracle of the temple lamp oil lasting eight nights; in early December, Buddhists celebrate Rohatsu, the anniversary of the enlightenment of the Buddha and the possibility of enlightenment for all beings; earth-centered religions anticipate the coming of longer days by lighting Yule logs in the fireplace. In the Christmas story, the shepherds and the wise men literally look up to see a bright star, a light in the sky, that guided them to the birthplace of Jesus and the promise of the Christ’s message of love.
It is so easy to get caught up in darkness, whether it is the physical darkness of the winter days or the mental darkness of despair or just dull days. We light candles and fires to remind us to figuratively look up, to see that there is hope even in darkness, that the light will return just as surely as a new day will dawn. I derive great joy from the sweet turning and returning of this holy season. My hearts stirs with hope and faith when I observe stars in the winter night sky, Christmas lights in neighbor’s yards, and candles in the Menorah and in Christmas wreaths. I know that the days will start to lengthen and that warmth will return to our world. I give thanks that hope, love, joy and peace are celebrated at this time.
Remember, light always conquers darkness. Love and hope conquer fear. May peace reside in your heart. Look up and see the stars!