Farnborough HIll's Chaplain, Mrs Nelle Dalton, writes her thoughts on the theme of hope and shared experiences with others during the Christmas season:
Driving into school early on a dark Thursday morning just before the end of term in my festive Christmas jumper, I had a mixture of feelings: anticipation and excitement about the holidays, anxiety about my “To-Do” list, sadness thinking about those who will find this Christmas difficult. I felt quite emotional during this time of prayer on my commute. I also felt quite low and overwhelmed remembering those who are going through bereavements, struggles with loved ones, mental health, or living in war-torn countries. I chalked up my despair to fatigue, and I tried to hand these worries over to God.
When I arrived to my dark office and looked out the window, I saw the most incredible sight. A dark sky with a glimmer of dawn emerging. A strip of yellow / pink / purple on the horizon was breathtaking. I tried to capture it on my phone, but it paled in comparison to the reality of the beauty. A Year 11 pupil who was in the corridor called to myself and another staff member to come look at the sunrise outside. The three of us went out and sat on a bench at the top of the Hill to enjoy this sight together. We marvelled at the beauty, and sharing it made it so much better. I noticed some of the kitchen staff coming out to appreciate and try to capture the sunrise on their phones as well.
This is what Christmas is about: Jesus entering into a world of darkness to bring us hope. Hope that we are not alone even on the darkest of days. Although we can experience this love individually, when we experience the divine (often communicated to us through beauty in the natural world), sharing this with others not only confirms our experience but also magnifies it.
It was only later that I realised that Thursday 14 December is the feast day of St John of the Cross. John of the Cross was a Carmelite priest, mystic writer and Doctor of the Catholic Church who wrote a book called, Dark Night of the Soul. This profound spiritual figure not only wrote about the human need for the transcendence, but also our need to be with others. How fitting to have this experience on his feast day.
As we seek Light, Love and belonging this Christmas, may we remember those who are alone. May we not only have a personal experience of the Divine this Christmas, but shared experiences of Jesus’ love and light with others.