The Italians have a special word for this interplay of light and shadow: chiaroscuro. And it goes alliteratively well with Christmas! Tender Nativity scenes contrast the rough and rustic dark of a Bethlehem night with the Light of the World nestled into a manger. Light reflects off of the faces of Mary and Joseph as shepherds, sheep and cows gather.
Just by chance, while I was pondering all this, an interesting piece by Clarissa Pinkola Estes showed up in my Facebook newsfeed: We Were Made for These Times. A particular passage spoke to me in the same way that the dark/light of the winter solstice speaks to me: 'Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.' There, we simply are called to do our part. We are the gentle light in the manger.
This reminds me of a funny thing that happened last Christmas Eve, which coincided with the first night of Hanukkah. We were visiting our daughter and son-in-law in Alsace and our celebration was interfaith. We placed all the candles in the menorah and lit the first candle with the servant candle. Then, because of the proximity of the candles, they all caught on fire. Well, no one is perfect... But, this reenforces my point. Start small, start where you are. Your local light will spread. This also goes back to the writing of Clarissa Pinkola Estes: 'Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.' You are needed. Now.