Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Brightness of Hope

The other day the world was a sky sandwich. White clouds hung overhead as a slice of clear blue sky hung near the horizon, everything below was illuminated by the fresh foot of snow that covered the valley. I smiled happy that it would be the first white Christmas I have had in many years. We have had wet Christmases and sunny Christmases but the snow has avoided me for a few years. I am very glad to have snow.

I love that snow takes the darkness that overwhelms this time of year and just brightens everything; mother earth's flashlight. This natural flashlight physically AND emotionally lightens hearts. I see it everywhere; adults act like children and frolic just as readily through the crisp landscape, everyone staring out their windows in wonder as the fat flakes fall and land like a magic trick. Tension disperses from my heart as I drive and expand my peripheral view and take in how beautiful it all looks.

It contrasts against the reality that for many, the literal darkness parallels loneliness, loss, and heartache. I still feel great pangs of loss this time of year. The lack of James' physical presence is made more apparent in sending out Christmas cards, hanging stockings, and selecting gifts. I still think about him most at night, when it is darkest. It is difficult to not let those dark feelings overcome the joy this season can bring.

But when I see the snow, I am reminded of light and the power that it possesses to take even the darkest day of the year and illuminate it. Even the smallest bit of light disperses dark.

That is why I have such hope despite all the bad in the world. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ and He himself said,
"I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
 Though we know that He was not actually born on December 25th, the actuality that we celebrate His birth close to the darkest day of the year is a powerful symbol. His coming to earth was literally Heavenly Father sending light to illuminate and dispel the darkness. His birth was miraculous as the snowflakes that fall and cover everything, He too blankets the earth with a bright hope.
In an effort to remember James more, I reminded my family that we should be praying for him in our family prayers more regularly. Max has taken this to heart more than anyone and requests to say almost every single family prayer and you know what he says? Each time Max utters a sincere prayer of gratitude, "Thank you that James can be resurrected someday." Each time a little more light flows into my heart. Even though Max is only four years-old, he understands being resurrected means that James will be brought back to life, that we will see him again.

That is the hope and joy His life brings. Those who are lost will be returned. Hearts broken will be healed. Comfort and peace will come through acknowledging the light is there.

We just have to pull back our perspective and see how He illuminates this entire world and covers it in His grace.  
"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men." (2 Nephi 31:20)
His light is there and it brings joy, a joy even greater than a child discovering the first snow of the season.

I hope and pray you all have a joyous and merry holiday season filled with light. Merry Christmas!

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