The death of President George H.W. Bush brought to mind for many of us his aspirational phrase for the United States of America, ‘a thousand points of light’. This was his metaphor of the country’s citizens, a sea of shining waystations of love and compassion for humanity. A few thoughts were coming together as I was pondering this second blog post: the iconic words from a departed President, the grief and love we shared with his family and friends during his memorial services, the coming holiday season and how difficult it can be for those who are mourning, and the momentary ‘gifts’ that can break through an overall pallet of darkness during times of grief. For those of us who are passing through a season of grief, the emotional landscape can feel dark, heavy, and empty. The ‘presence of absence’ can be the palpable distinguishing feature of this holiday season. A gaping void acutely felt. Someone who should be here is not, and there is nothing we can do about it. Like a starry night, however, a thousand points of light can infuse some beauty, poignancy, and grace, bringing moments of awe and inspiration, into an otherwise almost unbearable situation. May I encourage you to raise your antenna and consciously receive the nanoseconds of love, tenderness, kindness, helpfulness, compassion, humor, beauty, and nostalgia that present themselves in the form of hugs, hand squeezes, glances, smiles, notes, conversations, Christmas lights, music, candles, the smells and flavors of favorite foods, the good intentions behind a gift. The sadness and emptiness are a given, they will be there. But so also is everything else. If you can, notice them. In your friend’s hug, feel and name the love. A star. In the wafting scent of pumpkin pie, comfort. A star. In the Hallelujah Chorus, majesty bigger than oneself or one’s grief. A star. In a beautifully set table, family and community. A star. Using the gift certificate for a massage, ministry to the exhausted body. A star. A funny story shared about your departed loved one, sweet laughter. A star. Someone cleaning up the kitchen without being asked, a miracle. A star. The song that gave me great comfort in the early stages of my grief journey was John Michael Talbot’s Holy Darkness. It reminded me that there is soulful purpose in such times as these. We don’t know what it is yet. It may be awhile until we do. But it is not for nothing. Something beautiful will emerge. In the meantime, there are the starry nights. Wishing you a holiday season that brings you a thousand points of light.