This is just a shot in the dark

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

I remember it so clearly. And I still wince at the memory.

It was a winter evening many years ago when I went to lock up the church at our old location in Tonganoxie. I was so familiar with its layout that I didn’t need to turn on any lights.

Confidently, I strode down the main aisle to check on the outside door of the sacristy. A few feet from the sanctuary, my right shin connected — hard — with some obstacle, both surprising and scaring me.

I yelled as I stumbled forward, my hand grazing the offending object: one of the altar server seats. Apparently, someone had been working in the church, moved it and forgot to put it back where it belonged.

The scare that night took its place on the long list of why I’m afraid of the dark. Moving about blindly can be dangerous, scary and painful.

Even the Scriptures remind us of the perils of the dark (see, for example, Rom 13:12;  Eph 5:11; 1 Thes 5:5: and 1 Pt 2:9). And it’s no accident that we call Satan, “the prince of darkness.”

But Advent reminds us that we are people of light.

Our wreaths tell us that the more candles that are burning, the closer the Light is to coming in a deeper way into our hearts. And we’re called in these days to prepare for the Lord by embracing the light(s).

This time of year, with its early nightfall, makes us appreciate the wonderful gift that light is. Take time in these days to savor all the Christmas lights decorating homes or relish the pinpoints of starlight seen in the crisp, winter sky.

Some hearty folks might enjoy some festive time outdoors around a blazing fire pit. Just switching on a light, in fact, can be an opportunity to notice and thank God for electricity — something that many in our world do not enjoy.

An even more appropriate way to mark this season of Advent is to treat everyone we meet with kindness and respect. In other words, we’re called to be light.

In these holidays when many people are feeling stressed or burdened, we can act as a light by being of generous service. Showing patience in the checkout line or in traffic will cause us to stand out . . . like a light in the darkness.

One of the most needed gifts, perhaps, is that of being lighthearted in these days. With that in mind, I’ll close with a few holiday buffet pointers, courtesy of my parishioners:

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts out carrot sticks knows nothing of the holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So, drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip?

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. It does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano.

4. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory holiday calories, but avoid it at all costs. I mean, c’mon, have some standards!

5. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s Day. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

6. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Read through these tips again; start over. But hurry, January is just around the corner.

No need to thank me for these tips. Hopefully, they’ve brightened your day a bit.

So, what are you waiting for? You’ve got the green light to do the same.

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