Chaplain’s Corner, November 2011

A Season of Blue or the Dawn of Light?

At our October 27th meeting, we were really saddened by one bit of news: we had just (on the 25th) lost an old friend and Board Member, Mattie Walsh. A hushed room kept a moment of silence as Long Island Shields compatriots reflected on how good a gift it was that God had given us in the interaction we shared with such a good person as Mattie and how very much delight we’re going to be missing because of his absence. In the prayer that followed, I made references to the images we find meaningful in the holidays rapidly approaching. In our varied home traditions we expect to think a bit about the blessings we all enjoy – peace and sustenance, good food and a safe place to live with our loved ones – and we’ll give thanks. Even in subdued mood, we’ll still pause to say, “Thankyou.”

A month from then, many homes will treasure the retelling of the story about the power of justice and purity that restored freedom to worship to those who had been oppressed by the evil of the king who had desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem just to show he was strong enough to do it. The Hammer of godly judgment came down upon that tyrant – and the light he thought he had extinguished was instead rekindled, burning a miraculous seven days longer than the one-day’s oil supply should have provided. And it continues to burn even into our own times, affirming that the darkness cannot encompass the light. The word, Chanukah , means “rededication” (referring to the relighting of the menorah following the cleansing of the Temple.) In the Light of the Good, faithful people will continue to rededicate themselves to all things honorable and life-supportive.

In a complementary way, the Christmas festival reaffirms the appearance of the Light of Truth and Goodness in a world so often immersed in dark things. The exclamation of “Joy to the World” is meant to enliven a sense of confidence that Right will ultimately triumph over Wrong. The almost embarrassingly humble birth scene is understood to hide for a time the presence of the Mighty One, the one who leads faithful ones to mop up the remnants of death’s threatening grip on humanity, trusting in the one who promises and delivers Life.

Chaplain Berkowitz (in his message in the October Call Box) was right on the money in raising our sensitivity to the power of humor in our service to others. Laughter is surely effective in lifting us out of the blue moods into which the encroaching darkness of this world seems to surround us. We can never know what it was that afflicted our brother so that he lost the joy that keeps us well, but the effect of evil’s dark side has brought a blue mood to us indeed. But we will not lose hope and sink into misery. We will find echoes of affirmation of all that is light-giving in the holidays that approach and we will reach out in wholesome fellowship with all those who stand up for the right, for the good, and for the merciful. May the Season of Light dawn on you, flooding you with blessing so that you, being uplifted and enlightened, might be the means by which all friends and neighbors find blessings.

Chaplain James G. Anderson