A Light for Peace
Published December 22, 2016
The holidays are a special time of year. As a child I looked forward to opening presents with my family and spending the day laughing and playing with my sister and cousins. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and a host of aunts and uncles shared stories about family events and good times with friends. As I have gotten older, the holidays have become a time of reflection and quiet contemplation. Many of the voices of my childhood are now deceased, but continue to speak to me through many wonderful memories. When my adopted Grandma A passed in 1992 at the age of 91, my family began lighting a candle of remembrance in honor of our loved ones. The lighting of the candle is a symbol of remembrance and appreciation of the uniqueness of each person and the important life-lessons they shared.
I read that Christmas and Hanukkah will overlap this year for the first time in 40 years. I could not help but reflect on the use of light and candles that will be lit in homes around the world this holiday season. Christians have been lighting Advent candles, and the first candle of the Menorah will be lit in homes all over the world this Saturday night. On the 26th, African-Americans will light their candleholder signifying the start of Kwanzaa. While not a religious celebration Kwanzaa is a week long celebration of family, community, and culture. And as with Advent candles and the Menorah, each Kwanzaa candle represents one of the seven principles for a strong family and community.
In fact, when we reflect on the use of candles and their light, we see that they play an important role in many of the world’s religions. The light is often a strong symbol of hope, enlightenment, prosperity, and knowledge in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, etc. Just as during Kwanzaa, the ritual of lighting candles in each of these religions helps to facilitate learning of important principles and concepts. Therefore, the reverence surrounding the lighting of candles during sacred and other important events appears to be a shared experience across many cultures practically since the beginning of time.
Buddha pointed out that “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” And this quote, in particular, reminds me of my Grandma A, who taught me at a very early age that having many friends does not mean that you love each old friend less every time you make a new friend. She always taught us to “remember that love always multiplies, it never divides.” By that same token we know that sharing knowledge never makes you less smart, it multiplies the number of people who carry that knowledge.
The staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors at DRS North Texas have been ambassadors for peace and understanding in our community for over thirty years. As we celebrate the holidays and the coming New Year next week, may we all endeavor to be and to share the light of peace and understanding with all those who cross our path. And in so doing, may we continue to be the guardians of conflict resolution and mediation, as well as beacons of hope for our community in 2017 and for many years to come!
Happy Holidays from all of us at DRS North Texas!
Serving Tarrant County and surrounding areas, Dispute Resolution Services of North Texas Inc. is a non-profit community dispute resolution organization of professional volunteer mediators who provide affordable mediation services and teach mediation and dispute and conflict resolution, an effective alternative to litigation. Click here to learn more about the mediation process.
Author: Jacquelyn Flynt, Executive Director of Dispute Resolution Services of North Texas, Inc.
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