We Wish You Light
By Joe Hunt, Director of the Veterans Mental Health Coalition of NYC
Most of this month’s celebrations are inspired by Christmas and Hanukkah, the two major religious holidays celebrated by Christians and Jewish believers, respectively, in the U.S.
But those aren’t the only religious holidays this month that some families will celebrate together. In fact, the Interfaith Calendar lists 14 religious holidays for the month of December.
Winter Solstice holidays have been with us for thousands of years, begun at the dawn of agriculture among people who depended upon the return of the sun. Many of these holidays celebrate light literally, but for many, there is also the symbolic meaning of light as Wisdom.
For those we serve, these holidays may bring reminders of loss, loneliness and darkness. Our hope is that their darkness can yield to light through our services. We can help them in their journey by listening intently, avoiding judgment and enabling them to share their story. It’s all of our responsibility to ensure those we serve have access to emotional supports that help them to live lives of fullness and meaning.
As Betty Bethards, a spiritualist who was often referred to as the “Common-Sense Guru” wrote in The Dream Book: Symbols for Self-Understanding, “Each soul has a light, and the ability to see with clarity depends upon the strength of the inner light…Awareness determines brightness.”
While behavioral health treatment and supports are not religions or celebrated, other than being recognized in National Days/Months each year, they too can be thought of as a process that brings light to darkness.
Mental health influences how everyone thinks, feels, and behaves. It also affects one’s ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships.
Effective emotional health support doesn’t eliminate life’s challenges. Emotional health provides the wisdom and resilience that enables us, and those we serve, to manage life’s challenges and brightens our lives. Recovery is possible, and happens every day with people from all walks of life living with diverse mental health challenges.
We wish you light.