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It is odd having a head crammed full of memories of happier times of my childhood, especially against the backdrop of severe trauma memories that have surfaced over time. Don't you picture evil people being evil all the time? Isn't that what the movies and television have taught us?
Well, not at my house.
My mother went overboard for the holidays as a kid. We weren't from means, but she would drag out the chintzy fake Christmas tree, put on the twinkly multi-colored lights that blinked in off-hand patterns, and then adorn it with the ornaments from years past. This is a fond memory. It doesn't hold any realness to it, but more of a surreal, temporal quality of a time when even a hardened criminal like her, could find something to be cheerful about. She even made an angel to put on top. I would sit and stare at that tree for hours in the dark.
Those times lasted right up to the age my daughter is now. After my third grade year, the booze and drugs became her full-time companion and my brother and I were left to fend for ourselves against the warped mind of a psychopathic father. The years go much darker after that. I don't remember the twinkling of any lights. Except...
This light would come whenever my father killed someone. Without fail, as a chapter within my horribly violent memories, there would be this profound light teaming with effervescence and an all-pervasive love. It would surround me and the person that was about to die; a child who could no longer survive the ravages of sadistic predators. As their bodies gave out, I could see their souls rise from their now lifeless vessel and engage with the light in a way which made them comfortable. They could change the shape of it to make it more welcoming; sometimes like an angel, sometimes like a tunnel, sometimes like a grand man in flowing robes who would simply stand their smiling elegantly and encouraging them to move...beyond.
As the horror of what I lived through was shelved somewhere in my mind, so was the beautiful gift of the light. When the memories began to return, they were periodically marked with these incredible interactions with the light. As my therapist said to me after my first experience seeing it again, "you were bound to get something for your money."
I know today that light is where we all come from and return to. It is a strange thing in this society to have such assurance about this, as so many are afraid of what happens after death. I am often surprised by the ways people try to manage their fear of death. I do not have that fear. I have a knowing and it is a deeply peaceful gift after the years of horror.
It's funny though, you can't give that knowing away. Most wisdom is like that, earned through trials and triumphs. What I do wish for is to give people certainty; they are not alone and they are deeply loved. A love beyond human imagination. If you can open your mind to that idea, all matters of miracles can happen.
As this season is a celebration of a man named Jesus, I remind myself to focus on what he really came here to do, to teach each of us about the light. While I am not religious, I am spiritual and have spent years studying the texts of various religions. There is much inspiration to be gained from the words within these hallowed books, and when I read the Bible as metaphor (versus the literal translations and heavy-handed rule book which is so often taught), I see the magic of what has been there all along, written down over 2,000 years ago.
2 Peter 1:19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
The light is what makes my life miraculous. We have survived the unimaginable as a family unit of three (and a couple pets who are beloved) and while we still struggle with the day to day logisitics of life, there is a foundation of faith in our connection to the light that lives in and through us and ...beyond.
When I see the ways in which people choose to celebrate this time of year, I find myself drifting back to the traumatized 8-year-old girl sitting on the velour cream couch, staring at the twinkling of lights that brought me so much peace, because I recognized them as home.
May your holidays be Merry and *Bright*.