I’ll admit it. I’ve been counting down the days until this year’s Winter Solstice.
As the sun sets around 4:20 each afternoon, and darkness envelops the windows of NICABM, I find myself longing for more hours of daylight.
Is it any wonder, then, that images of light and dark play such a prominent role in so many winter holiday celebrations?
The celebration of Hanukkah commemorates the miraculous supply of oil that kept lights burning for eight days following the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem. The Christian tradition celebrates light coming into the world in the form of a child.
Yet the genesis of each of these celebrations took place against the backdrop of unspeakable darkness.
Hanukkah celebrates the restoration of religious liberty after King Antiochus Epiphanes outlawed Jewish religious practice and desecrated the temple in Jerusalem.
Wise men followed a star to find a prophetic child after his parents fled to Egypt during King Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents.
Whether or not you subscribe to either of these traditions, it’s hard to escape the reality that this year’s celebrations will also occur against the backdrop of nearly unspeakable darkness in this world.
My heart grows heavy as news continues to roll in about shattered truces and trapped refugees in the City of Aleppo.
What can be done?
Earlier this year, the NICABM team met with Cheryl Anderson from Save the Children to hear about their work in caring for refugees. Save the Children has staff on the ground in Syria, and around the world, providing food, shelter, and health services to overwhelming refugee populations.
As painful as it was to hear some of the stories, I still recall what Cheryl said:
I don’t have the answers, but I always have hope.
She told us a story about an old man who walked along a beach littered with starfish that had washed ashore. Because the sun was up and the tide was going out, the old man picked up starfish, one by one, and gently tossed them back into the sea.
Seeing this, a young man questioned why the old man bothered trying to save the starfish when there were so many, and he couldn’t possibly save them all. What difference could his efforts possibly make?
As the old man tossed another starfish into the ocean, he said, “It made a difference to that one.”
It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of suffering in the world. But as Cheryl said, there is always hope.
Supporting the work of charitable organizations, including Save the Children, has always been a priority of NICABM. We value the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of refugees, or to build classrooms in places like Kenya, and in Pakistan, where educational opportunities are so limited.
I’ll have more to say about this soon. But in the meantime, I want to wish you the very best during this season of celebration, and in the year to come.
Now I’d like to hear from you. Where in the world would you like to see a brighter light shining? To call attention to the need, and invite others to join in making a difference?
Please leave a comment below.