Photo Credit: Myrialejean Flickr via Compfight cc

The shortest day of the year has passed. (At least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). It was dark and cold, and likely it will feel so for a while. But it can only get lighter from here. I love that the Winter Solstice and Christmas are celebrated around the same time. What more appropriate way to focus on the coming of the Light of the World than when things are at their darkest? For some of us, this holiday season has been on of stress and chaos and worry. Part of me feels like I never truly entered into the season. I know this is a time of celebration, of peace, but it doesn’t feel like that.

But it can only get lighter from here.

I had my first panic attack in 10 years, for no particular reason that I can track down, except the very high levels of stress I’ve been functioning under. My adrenaline level has been running high for so long I’m not sure I could bring it down even if I tried. There are a lot of unknowns headed into this new year. It’s certainly not the way I would have planned it. I like to ease into transitions intentionally, planning ahead, and better yet with a safety net. But it does seems as though our lives rarely work like that.

But it can only get lighter from here.

Around the world, the suffering can seem soul crushing and we feel powerless to make a difference. Compassion fatigue can overwhelm us and we shut down our hearts in self-preservation. But we can’t forget that Jesus, in becoming one of us, opening up his heart to the pain, and torment of all humanity. His heart broke and yet held strong and he carried the sins of all history and future to the cross. I love that the journey from the manger to the cross is one of illumination. It will only get lighter from here.