Last night, a group of students, faculty and staff gathered in Social Hall for Trinity’s annual Festival of Lights. During the ceremony, so ably led by Campus Minister Barbara Humphrey McCrabb, the four candles on the Advent wreath were lit, and the community reflected on the meaning of the season through readings, prayer and song. Trinity’s Choir was outstanding, with many strong solo voices raised during different parts of the evening.
The lighting of candles in this season — the Advent wreath, the Hannukah menorah, and the more secular traditions of candles and holiday lights in great profusion on many streets — proclaims the essential optimism of the human spirit. No matter how dark the night, how difficult the day, how doubtful the soul in any given moment, hope flickers anew in the warmth and light of the taper’s fire. From the humble, elegant beeswax candle to the gaudy, extravagant Walmart Santa balloon, the human community affirms hope and even mirth against the darkness of these short days.
2005 has been a year of many dark, short days — too much war and terror, too much catastrophe beyond our comprehension, too many homeless neighbors, too many lives twisted, abandoned or even ended in tragic ways in our own city. But the Festival of Lights calls us to renewed hope, a stronger affirmation of our own powerful light. As people of faith, people privileged to receive the precious gift of a great higher education, we have the ability to light so many other fires, to carry our flame to places that are unable to kindle their own.
In this short December season at Trinity, let’s use the few days left before the mad dash for the winter break to think about the many ways we can extend the meaning of the Festival of Lights all through the year. Let’s find more ways to illuminate our own campus community, to help each other, to improve relationships and reach out to the larger needs of the Trinity family. Let’s also renew our commitment to work for justice and peace each day.
Today, the day after the Festival of Lights, is the 50th Anniversary of the day that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus. As candles against the darkness go, Rosa Parks was a Roman Candle bursting high against the night sky. Let us remember her example with gladness and thanksgiving. Then, let’s pay tribute to her by going out to find our own ways to light up the night sky.