Rev. Elizabeth Rowley is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at revelizabeth@cccsl.org.

Is it just me, or does it seem a lot colder this year than at this time last year? We’ve gone through the eye of the needle and come out the other side, and just like that, winter is here.

I read that we had seven hours and forty-nine minutes of daylight on the winter solstice this past Tuesday. We deserve applause, as we have plunged the depth of darkness and can now celebrate the return of the light. One thing I love about the winter solstice is its magnificent reminder that the light always returns. Whatever darkness you may have experienced or are currently experiencing, please know this: the light will return.

After the longest night of the year on the solstice, we gain an average of two minutes and seven seconds more daylight each day until we finally achieve a whole extra hour of light on Jan. 18, 2022. It gets better from here.

Earlier this month, I was inspired by the becoming of Moses. God informed Moses at the burning bush that he was chosen to free the enslaved from Egypt. Moses was not confident about his request, which was really more like a command than a request. He asked God who he should say sent him, and God said, “I AM WHO I AM. You are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” As I pondered this call to Moses, these words echoed in my mind: I am. I am. I am. I am that I am. Try speaking those words aloud and feel how they anchor you.

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Then in that state of a full realization that the great I am sent me here, I made a declaration aloud and believed that it was true: I am joy. God has sent me here to experience joy. I then put it all together and continued repeating aloud: I am. I am. I am. I am that I am. I am. I am. I am. I am that I am. I am joy. God has sent me here to experience joy. I am. I am. I am. I am that I am. I am. I am. I am.

The Presence of Spirit is palpable here. I indeed find the joy in becoming with that mantra. Do you feel it, too? You can replace the word joy with a word symbolic of your unique becoming. Repeating the mantra, “I am,” is like following a trail of breadcrumbs left for us by the Divine to lead us back home to the light within us.

On Christmas Day, while many commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the light of the world, let us rededicate our hearts to the service of humanity. Let’s be kind and loving to one another, shine our lights, forgive, and have the faith of God as we give thanks for this precious life. You are the reason for the season.

And so it is.

Blessings to all of you, and happy holidays.