We will publish an article on Nelson Mandela on Thursday on our website but today we want to recognize and minister to those amongst us for whom Christmas is difficult. Doug Bingham is an old friend. He is a long standing member of Kits Church who published this Advent guide. The Bingham family co-founded Keats camp. Doug has worked as a case manager in county mental health for years so brings a wide range of perspectives to this article. Thanks for letting us see this, Doug.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend.
I find it hard to join in the excitement and spirit of Advent, as it coincides with the darkest time of the year and I hate and fear the dark. When the nights become longer than the days my spirit begins to shrivel. I spend what daylight hours there are in the pale fluorescent light of my office and come and go in the gloom. During this season I find it impossible to be joyful or spontaneous. Most activities become a test of willpower, my confidence fades and I am anxious, clumsy and dull. I sleep poorly and eat too much.
I have been aware of the affect of winter darkness on myself most of my adult life and have developed various coping mechanisms. I use a SAD light, exercise regularly, try to control my diet and not drink too much. These tactics are somewhat effective.
A few years ago, however, on a dismal winter day, I found that visualizing the sun and thinking about sunlight actually eased my dread. The thought that brought me the most satisfaction was the fact that the sun is always shining. It struck me that, while I was sitting in traffic in the rain at 5:30 on a dark Vancouver night, the sun was beating down on a beach in Australia, heating up a tennis court in Chile or warming a backyard barbeque in South Africa. I would picture myself there and call to mind the light and hear of the sun in all it’s manifestations.
Now I would like to say that the spiritual significance of affirming the presence, nature and work of the sun was immediately apparent to me but it was not. Perhaps this shows how truly dull I became in the winter. Nevertheless, it eventually dawned on me that the approach I was taking to sooth my longing for the sun could draw me nearer to the comfort of the Son. For at Advent Christ is proclaimed “the light that shines in the darkness” Christians are called to “bear witness”, call to mind, remember and contemplate the “true light which enlightens every man.”
Now as the winter darkness looms over me I have developed a two pronged defense. When the darkness is without I remember the sun. When the darkness is within I remember the Son. I bear witness to his nature and his work and I remember what he has done in my life so far and I am warmed by his light and can see my way.
Also, it is with great sadness that we note the passing of Keith Churchill who was well-known and loved by many in Western Canada, especially as pastor of West Point Grey Vancouver and Trinity Sherwood Park. I’ll share more later about Keith’s story, particularly with the CBWC, at a later date.