On Grief, Winter, and Kindling Lights

There’s a thoughtful and touching piece up by Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, about winter sadness, winter celebration, and finding joy and meaning in the face of grief and loss. It’s from a speech he gave at the annual Candle Lighting Service Mount Auburn Cemetery, and it’s titled On Grief, Winter, and Kindling Lights. Here’s an excerpt:

With darkness and cold, as with the loss of love’s presence, naturally come feelings of sadness. We can’t change the season any more than we can change the reality of why we’re here. And yet, we light lights, both to physically warm and brighten our days, and also to symbolically remind ourselves: the light returns. Warmth returns. Love remains. The darkness is worthwhile and beautiful because it is part of a cycle that includes so much illumination.

Despite our many beliefs and philosophies, what I think this season and this occasion can both mean is that in the coldest, darkest times in life, we can make light for one another. We can acknowledge the cold, be realistic about the dark. This gives us more, not less of an ability to clearly see the hours of light. And at every moment, even in the darkest moments, there is something or someone being born that can give hope, even if not directly to us then to someone else, and maybe eventually, when we’re ready, that someone will give hope to us or to someone we love so much we’d rather they feel the hope than feel it ourselves.

Greg is more interfaithy than I am, but I like this piece a lot. I think some of you might like it as well.

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Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

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On Grief, Winter, and Kindling Lights
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