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Light in Dark Times

On finding hope during the holidays.
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Rabbi Ted Falcon, Pastor Don Mackenzie, and Sheikh Jamal Rahman, known collectively as the "Interfaith Amigos," have been learning and teaching together since 2001. They blog weekly for YES! Magazine.

Holiday lights, photo by Mike

Photo by Mike

I’ve been having trouble writing this blog entry. Perhaps it’s because of the discrepancy between my mood and the sentences with which I want to begin this piece. Here they are:

“This December is special because it is bracketed by Light. Chanukkah (Dec. 1 − 8) is a Jewish Festival of Light, and Christmas (I suspect you know when it is) is a Christian Celebration of Light.”

What has made it challenging for me to write this is the darkness that I experience through the world’s anguish at this time. I am not living in a December of Light—I am living in a December that is in need of Light.

I need to remember in this time of darkness that there are many who are seeking to support a way of Light.

I listen to the rantings of politicians who seem far more caught up in ideology and party positioning than they do in honestly meeting the deep challenges of our economy, the needs of our people, and caring for our planet. I witness the kindest of people being too busy to adequately separate their own food waste and recycling from their trash to reduce the build-up of what is becoming our planetary garbage dump. I witness fires and weather destroying lives and property and then reflect on the consequence of our priorities when we are unable to respond adequately. In this season of cold, I see the homeless in our own community seeking shelter from the wet and the winter.

And even, perhaps, more sharply, I returned from Israel in early November more aware than ever of the incredibly wide divide between the humanity we perceive and the inhumanity shown by the actions of the leaders in that troubled region.

Right here at home, I am troubled by the inaction of so many of us who speak words of reconciliation, words of peace, words of promise, yet continue to find enemies who need to be stopped rather than people who need to be invited into the dialogue.

Yes, all that is true, yet I need to remember in this time of darkness that there are many who are seeking to support a way of Light. For the last year and a half, I have had the unspeakable blessing of traveling with Pastor Don Mackenzie and Imam Jamal Rahman to meet with people in this country and beyond who strive to work more effectively for peace, for reconciliation, and for healing. We have worked to bridge divides of religion and culture—bridges of greater understanding and appreciation. We have begun to acknowledge the aspects of our own traditions that support the pain rather than the promise, the separation rather than the unity, the conflict rather than the resolution. What I need to remember is that there are many others who also feel the pain at this time, and who are working to bring Light into their lives and into the world we share.

World Trade Center, photo by Duane RomanellGetting Beyond Religious Hatred
Brought together by the events of 9/11, three friends from different faiths reflect on what it will take to reach the other side of hatred.

I need to remember all of you out there who are honestly striving to make things better wherever you are; striving to make things better in your homes, in your workplaces, in your communities, and in your world. I need to remember that I am not alone.

I need to remember that we are each vehicles for the Light that expands to meet the darkness of this December. I need to remember that we can together share the pain in order to walk more consciously, to live more carefully, to become more conscious and more caring.

I need to honor the Light that each of us brings to the world we meet. You are the reason I do the work I do, and perhaps I am part of the reason why you do your part. We are in this together, and together we realize the Light in deeper ways than any one of us can realize alone.


Ted Falcon

Rabbi Ted Falcon, Ph.D., wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Rabbi Falcon has taught Jewish traditions of Kabbalah, meditation, and spirituality for over thirty-five years. He is the author of A Journey of Awakening: Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tree of Life and co-author, with David Blatner, of Judaism For Dummies.

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