Every Christmas holiday, when I was younger (much younger!), I would paddle a canoe out onto a small island and camp there overnight. One of my favourite things to do was to lay there in the dark in my sleeping bag, look up, and be absolutely amazed by the incredible amount of stars in the night sky.
Back at home, surrounded by street lights, and car headlights, and lights shining out of the windows of neighbouring homes, I was never able to see the true beauty and majesty of a night sky saturated with stars.
Yet laying on the ground on that island, looking up at the sky, it was like looking at a large sheet of black material that had millions of tiny pin holes in it, and with a bright light shining through the holes from behind the material.
Light is a wonderful gift. It helps us to see our way. It can be a beacon to show us the right destination to aim for. It can be a comfort to us amidst the fears that oftentimes accompany the dark.
And just as light can always dispel darkness, I have discovered that in the darkest times in my life there has always been light shining. Sometimes that light has been my faith. A lot of times the light has been another person who has just come alongside me and kept me company in the dark.
Christmas is such a wonderful time of love and giving, of grace and tolerance, of patience and forgiveness, of family and companionship. But for many it can be a time of fear, confusion, despair, loneliness, pain, and so on … darkness.
So at this Christmas time I would remind you of the light on that first Christmas, that guided the wise ones to an even greater Light. And I would remind you once again that light always dispels darkness.
And I wish for all of you the absolute privilege of being a light for someone else. (Imagine that! We can all be Christmas lights!).
And I want to thank all of the patients, family members, staff and volunteers at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, who have been lights for me as we share this journey together.