The Christmas season holds juxtaposition: the darkest days of the year, yet a time cheery with so many lights and anticipation. For Christians, the advent month reminds us to hope in Christ, coming to bring love and peace where we sorely need it. I think we like Christmas lights so much because they manage to embody this hope in the cold, dark days. When the world is sad, growing darker each day, the lights brighten it up and remind us to take heart.
I’ve had the privilege of spending more nights in the Amirah home these last few weeks. Walking with the women these days can be hard, as the holidays are heavy. For each of them, this season holds landmarks and anniversaries of some of the hardest life experiences a person can have. The season does nothing more than conjure up broken memories and nag at healing wounds, making grief raw once again. When it’s supposed to be filled with joy, it is instead filled with triggering pains of loss. And while these are the circumstances in which the Amirah women face December, they have to deal with songs, media, and other people all commanding them to be “merry and bright”.
Those facing hurt often respond to the urges of merriment with simple disdain for the season. It makes sense. And yet, the Amirah women are inspirational in how they handle this time. Because these days, they are so focused on their recovery that they get up each day and go to school, work, counseling, and meetings that force them to address their hurt. They actively fight against the easy response of bitterness and isolation to practice kindness and engagement with one another and in the Amirah community. They manage to express gratitude for what they have in this home and they are thinking about how to help one another. They name their fears, their hardships, and they work hard to make progress in healing. It is active and exhausting work for them to stay away from despair, but they meet that task each day with steady focus.
To me, the women are like Christmas lights. In the face of unspeakable darkness, they are shining lights that will not let the darkness win. No matter how great the darkness is, they are illuminating it day by day as they pursue this journey of recovery. This is a bit of the hope that we all share this Christmas season. Take heart!
“As we light this candle, may we remember the women that are still out there. May they find hope in this light and the courage to one day join us at our table.”
- Amirah’s morning and evening prayer.