By Michael Strelcheck
For many years the holiday season was often referred to as the Season of Light. Obviously (here in Wisconsin where the winter is a hundred shades of grey) this title is a metaphorical reference to something that has been difficult for the human mind to grasp – for the name could mean more than stringing colorful lights on physical things (although that is a beautiful expression of light).
Physical light is something we all have come to understand as a formless element that “illuminates.” When we come into a darkened room we almost unconsciously flip a switch on the wall and, magically, the room is illuminated, allowing us to see our way clearly. As the world evolves physical light is also evolving in a sense of how we have creatively come to use it.
The United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Light! I thought this a curious thing when I first heard it. After all, we have had lights for a long time now, so why would international diplomats think now is a good time to recognize that fact? In doing a little research I found more to the pronouncement. The declaration also includes an honoring of Light-based Technologies. Among some of the technologies being recognized are many amazing applications of the Laser. The laser is arguably the greatest achievement of humankind and was first created in 1960, initially dubbed “a solution looking for a problem.” These potent instruments of light are now used in a multitude of ways. For example, the Internet is largely made of fibre optic cables powered by lasers and our now indispensable DVD and MP3 players contain lasers. Medicine has also adapted the laser for multiple uses, so much so that the Medical Light Association has established healing with light as a specialized field of medicine calling light “one of the most important dynamics for life.”
As advanced as these technologies are, what powers them is a concrete reality we can easily comprehend, for we see it every morning with the sunrise. That light, given freely, provides our planet the energy for life (such as the process of photosynthesis). But does the concept of light communicate something more to us on an inner level?
Recently, science has been considering the idea that light has many wavelengths (such as ultraviolet and infrared) that subtly affect physical things. These wavelengths of light are unrecognizable to our naked eye but influence us nonetheless. Medical research has found that light directly affects the pineal gland situated in the middle of our brains and if a person is cut off from light, for a certain length of time, their brain chemistry is affected, and the gland will fail to produce the vital hormone that balances brain function melatonin. It has been thought that light reaches the pineal gland via the physical eyes but that is now in question. “Cabin fever” is one condition that is a result of a lack of light reaching the brain, and in an effort to help such conditions medicine has experimented with various treatments including chemical and holistic approaches. Surprisingly, research has found that if a person concentrates on the image of light in their mind the pineal gland will produce melatonin! Although data has yet to claim that there is a type of “inner light,” recent results suggest that possibility. Do these results “shed light” on something more?
The human psyche has come to think of light with the concepts of perception and understanding. But that’s not all. Humans also emotionally link the idea of light to feelings of warmth, hope, freedom and love. We can find such references in our common vernacular such as; “to shed light,” “to light the way,” “light up my life,” “to be filled with light,” and “lighten up!” Maybe humans instinctively sense some connection that’s yet to be fully realized in their thinking awareness.
Could the reference of the Season of Light subtly point to some type of inner light that’s available? The holiday season, as a time of Light, can be linked to the Christian concept that it was at this time of the year that a “savior” was born. That birth shed “light” on what humans were having trouble seeing – that all are loved by a greater Being. Hence the holiday season is believed to reflect a time when humans can “feel the love.” For sure, many find the holidays uplifting and even though gift-giving is much-maligned, a lot of it is driven by heartfelt intentions. Better yet, maybe this inner light is always shining on us if we were to look for it inside, illuminating one to the fact that they are always connected to a benevolent, loving force.
Happy Holidays. And have a great New Year. And keep shining!