Every September, various world events focus our thoughts
on peace, specifically, the making of it, the wishing for
it, the keeping of it, or, sadly, the lacking of it.
upon personal perspective, your idea of peace may be similar
to one of the five useages of the word “peace ”listed
in most dictionaries in order of popularity. It is noteworthy
that the first, hence most popular, definition listed is “the
absence of war or other hostilities while the useage that
ranks last is “inner contentment; serenity: peace of
mind. ”Could it be that if we elevate through consciousness
raising -- the most popular understanding of peace to being
“inner contentment, then we would be much closer to
achieving the actual “absence of war or other hostilities
that now dominates the useage of the word peace? ”
Defying the Darkness
with Holiday Light
By Tom and Linda Peters
We live in a cottage on Christmas Tree Lane.
Most of the year, we live a quiet life, ensconced in a grove of 100-foot-tall deodar trees. But come mid-December, the trees are lit with thousands of multi-colored bulbs and over 50,000 visitors come to Altadena, California to drive through the magical canopy on Santa Rosa Avenue.
We watch the line of cars, slowly converging on our home. The passengers press their faces against the windows and stare at the festive trees. And we wonder, what keeps them coming back, year after year? What are they seeing?
The deodar cedar trees are native to the Western Himalayas. Their botanical name is derived from the Sanskrit word, devadaru, which means Tree of the Gods. In the part of the world where these trees are from, they are worshipped as divine. In the ancient Hindu epics, a forest of deodars is considered to be a sacred place.
We moved to this cottage to heal. Like many people, our last few years have been full of change and uncertainty, and we needed a place to retreat, to gather our energy and redesign our future. We found our new home through Craigslist – a website that warrants some caution and seems an unlikely purveyor of healing cottages in sacred groves of divine trees, but sometimes the exact thing you need comes from the most unlikely of sources.
We are tucked into the back of a property, where the light from the street doesn’t normally reach. As the end of the first year approached, the darkness became all encompassing. Tom’s Dad was dying from a long disease and we were struggling with the whirlwind of emotions that accompanies imminent loss.
The Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year. It is the midpoint between the fall harvest and the abundance of spring. Nearly every culture in the northern hemisphere celebrates the solstice in one form or another, and almost all of them use light as a central element. Whether it’s a bonfire, a menorah or a southern California street full of gigantic Christmas trees, people around the world have long used light to defy the darkness.
When we sat outside last year and watched the twinkling lights on those sacred trees, we began to feel hopeful. The endless strings of colorful bulbs lifted our spirits and made us feel less afraid. They cheered us on and dared us to show our own light to others.
As the holidays approach again this year, we’re feeling a little more healed and the dark nights are not quite as threatening. We’re looking forward to the Tree Lighting ceremony, to the warmth and beauty that the lights create, to the way that they encourage us to slow down, to pause and appreciate the moment.
In a world that is changing at an ever-increasing speed, it’s natural to look for comfort in traditions. People need simple moments of light-filled beauty, reliable experiences of wonder and awe. We need each others’ company, we need each others’ love. And maybe holiday lights are there to serve as reminders. Maybe these festive, twinkling displays are just external manifestations of the divine internal light that we all simply want to share.
WATCH THE VENUS PROJECT - THE VISION OF A NEW CIVILIZATION