— By Francis from Sierra Leone
Holidays always seem to mean a lot to women and they certainly do to my nan, Cecilia. This is a time for giving gifts and shopping. Numberless of trinkets – ranging from booklets, bracelets, and bowls to charm are distributed. For her, the giving of gifts is a personal task, “an opportunity for engraving my spirit on the minds and hearts of my people.” Shopping for both these gifts and household goods, she stresses not fashion but durability and price. Shoes are bought for more days of wear in every pair.
Surely, this is a very special time of the year. In schools, children grow excited at the prospect of what is to come. Stores are jammed with shoppers, streets explode with light and messages of good-will abound. Even when people say hello to each other, there’s a special feeling in it; a bright and warm feeling that pervades our days.
Yes, we are at a very special time, indeed! And the question of what fills our cold winter days with such light and warmth is unavoidable.
For some of us it is Christmas, and for some of us it is Chanukah. Whatever the holiday, the feeling goes beyond any religious boundary and unites us all in a feeling of affection for each other.
The Jewish holiday of Chanukah is called the “Festival of Lights” – a candle is lit at night for seven nights to commemorate a miracle of light. The Christian holiday of Christmas has been called a “Fest of Love” – It commemorates the birth of Jesus, who has been called the Prince of Love.
With these, we have a combination of the feast of Light and Love; two qualities that should fill the world and the world becomes a better place for it.
What a need there is for both then. The world is filled with corners of darkness where lurk the demons of ignorance and prejudice and hate. These are corners where the light of knowledge and truth has not yet reached. What a bright and happy world we could have if the light of learning is brought to every crevice.
Each day we read, see and/ hear the tragedies that hate and fear bring about – horrors perpetrated in hate which destroys, tears down and mutilates. What a need there is for love. What a change there would be if we could reach each mind twisted by hate and replace that hate with love.
Light and Love; Love and Light – in combination, what wonders could they not produce? They could build a world where kindness would be the rule, concern for each other would be a part of daily life, and individuals would grow and thrive and contribute and find happiness and compassion.
If, for this one time of the year our lives can be filled with happiness and warmth and a spirit of giving – a spirit of light and love – then surely we can work at making it last throughout the year as well. Let’s have the courage to believe that this is not a dream; not a fantasy. Let’s us believe that it is a possibility within our grasp.
What a world THAT would be!