by Sister Elise Cholewinski
On several Monday evenings in the fall I teach a course on spirituality at the diocesan office campus in Green Bay. When driving home after class I have to cross a long bridge, and as I proceed in the darkness, the west side of the city is glowing before me. Lights from the stores in several shopping malls invite customers to enter and purchase items of all sorts. Lights from pubs and restaurants entice people to satisfy their needs for food, drink, and entertainment. Beyond that district looms a very tall structure with a bright shining “G” at the top, a symbol that represents a football team that has become an idol. All of these signs and symbols that illuminate the area reveal what we truly value.
We enter this weekend into the beginning of the Advent season. As we move into December, we are experiencing the darkest time of the year. Advent is a time to reflect not only on the condition of the world before the birth of Jesus, but also on the present situation in which we live, which has its own darkness. The events of this election year speak for themselves.
In contrast to the lights of the modern world, Isaiah says, in Sunday’s first reading, “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:5) Where do we find that light? Advent gradually draws us to the starlight beaming on the face of a newborn Baby lying in a manger in a cave, among a humble and lowly people. When we are in solidarity with the poor and the marginalized, we will recognize that face and embrace the light that surrounds it. And what are we to do with that light when we discover it? Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!
"Light pollution, also known as photopollution or luminous pollution, is excessive, misdirected or obtrusive artificial light. As a major side-effect of urbanization, it is blamed for compromising health, disrupting ecosystems and spoiling aesthetic environments." Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_pollution
Sr. Elise's first paragraph makes me think of what science has named as "light pollution" in our excessively over-stimulated world. It also reminds me of a wise old saying that might be attributed to Aesop: "'All that glitters is not gold' ... means that not everything that looks precious or true turns out to be so. This can apply to people, places, or things that promise to be more than they really are." Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_that_glitters_is_not_gold
And it calls to mind the gospel of John, "The Light came into the darkness, and people preferred the darkness over the Light." I think it might not be the darkness, itself, that people prefer today, but rather whatever 'light' that happens to make them feel like there is no darkness, or that 'this' (whatever 'this' happens to be) is the way out of the darkness. And of course we know, too disturbingly and too sadly so, these are all false lights, based on falsehoods, lies, and distortions of truth.
"JESUS, True Light of the World, COME!"
I loved your reflection. Thank you so much. It really touched me.