The Rite Corner: Light in Darkness


Illustrious David L. Nielsen, 33°, S.G.I.G. in Montana

As regular as the Winter Solstice, every December 21st I renew my interest and passion in the Winter Solstice-the day that is the start of winter and that has the longest period of darkness. It represents the dark periods of winter with hope of return of the sun for growth and harvest of summer crops. This symbolism is used to describe the periods in history that were dark for people being oppressed and victims of senseless violence and death, but with the light of God's love overcoming this darkness by bringing hope and joy.

Two thousand years ago, the Hebrews in Judea and Galilee, part of the Roman Empire, lived under the oppressive rule of Herod the Great-The King of the Jews. Herod was puppet ruler for Rome in its occupation of the Jewish territories. It was during Herod's reign, that a Jewish baby boy called "Jesus" would be born in Bethlehem. This nativity, according to the New Testament, did not go unnoticed. The birth of Jesus could be compared to a single candle glowing in a dark night. The child was also heralded as "The King of the Jews." Herod was not about to share his power and title as "King of the Jews" with a Jewish baby. His solution was to have all children of Jerusalem under the age of two slain, in an attempt to snuff the one small light. Jesus spent his life bringing the message of the law of Love an oppressed people.

The point of this story is that when the light of God's love and presence shines on darkness of human despair, there is no instantaneous change for the good. It takes time, and in some cases years.

As Masons we individually came from a place of darkness to one of Light, given by God. The Light we received teaches us kindness, compassion, charity, and brotherly love. At times we may be discouraged that we still see, and may even experience, the darkness of hate, oppression, and cruelty. We want to use the Light we have gained to shrine through and right the wrongs, but it seems to stall and does not take hold immediately.

The ancients, who depended upon the passing of the winter solstice into more sunlight, celebrated the Winter Solstice as the "opportunity for renewal, a shedding of bad habits and negative feelings and an embracing of hope amid darkness. . ." (CNN Travel)

If we feel frustrated in trying to make a noticeable difference in our society, to ease the pain of suffering, and the many types of darkness that comes in its treatment of people, the Winter Solstice teaches us that applying the goodness of light to dark situation is a long and demanding task, but with our trust in God we can persevere and prevail. We see too much discourteous behavior and unkind treatment of people. It makes us mad, and we want to retaliate in kind, but that would be adding darkness to dark. Bringing the Light of love, compassion, and kindness is slow, but it has a better chance of bearing healthy results. The Light we bring needs to be gentle but firm. Silence does not generate the Light that is needed. Compassionate application of Light to darkness may be our best hope for change.

May your New Year empower you to apply the Light of Masonry in areas of darkness and despair of God's children, and give comfort to those in need, suffering or anger. I wish you and your family the best in 2022.