As I write this, we’ve experienced our first cold front and we are moving toward the longest night of the year, which is why it shouldn’t be a surprise that so many traditions and holidays at this time of year involve light.
It is one of our powerful paradoxes of life that things are most visible, most precious when seen against their opposite. The light is most welcome when it calls to us from the dark. The warmth of the fire (or the heater) is most valuable when it’s cold and rainy. We enjoy the quiet at the end of a long semester — but if the break is too long we get antsy waiting for the noise and energy of a new semester.
As we wrap up the fall semester, we enjoy one of the benefits of university life — the fact that we can see cycles of life. One semester ends and as we prepare for the next, But in between there are moments where we can step aside and see the contrasts and appreciate each for what is important. The semester is busy and vibrant and full of good yet sometimes difficult work to be done. But at the end, there is a moment to take a breath and see what was accomplished and enjoy it.
That breath allows us to draw in energy to get ready for the next round. That moment of quiet is valuable because we’ve been too busy to stop, and it prepares us to continue to do our good work in the next semester. Taking that breath rejuvenates us. That quiet time allows us to be ready to enjoy the joyful noise of the next semester.
So in this time of short days and long nights, of cold days and darkness, I hope all of you will take a moment to appreciate what the dark shows us even as we are drawn to the warmth and light. I hope we will appreciate all that we have accomplished during this long, busy semester and find the time to be quiet and calm in the midst of the holiday frenzy. The ebb and flow, light and dark, good and bad ¾ whatever the pairing may be — each may help us to appreciate or shed “light” on the other.
I urge you to stop, take a breath and reflect upon your accomplishments this semester. I appreciate all of your efforts to serve our students and each other. Most of all, I wish you enjoyable holidays.