Offer a ray of light to others

It’s not for nothing that people are drawn to cheery Christmas lights. And burning candles. And roaring fires. It’s dark out there.

This week is host to the winter solstice. (Depending on the year, winter begins on a day between Dec. 20-23.) And so it is that Thursday marks the day of the year with the least hours of daylight. But perceiving the solstice as half-full, this also means that starting Friday, the days slowly lengthen with light as they march toward the summer solstice. (And then the cycle continues as the days slouch toward winter.)

Whether it’s Seasonal Affective Disorder, clinical depression or a case of the blues, there’s no denying this time of year (darkness plus what are supposed be joyous, or at least happy, holidays) can be difficult emotionally for many of us.

On Tuesday, reporter Katie Murdoch documented the realties of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which is prevalent in gloomy places like the Northwest. Fortunately, there are options to deal with the disorder, such as light therapy. Since the problem is widely recognized now, people are more comfortable seeking help, Murdoch reported. Education is key. Knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, can be tremendously helpful to people.

Last week, columnist Julie Muhlstein reported on how some local churches are responding to the reality that many people, for many different reasons, experience sadness at Christmas. Advent Lutheran Church in Mill Creek is hosting a Longest Night service tonight starting at 7, in an effort to reach out to people struggling with grief, divorce, job loss, illness, depression and other challenges, Muhlstein wrote.

The churches offering these type of services offer a good example for all of us: Reaching out to others is imperative, if they are to receive the help they need. Too often, those in the grip of depression or sadness are without hope. Too often they become isolated. They are unable to seek out the help they need.

Don’t worry about being pushy; reach out to those around you. Simple acts of kindness can offer hope, and a ray of light to those who are alone, or feel that they are. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to isolation and depression; especially those who have lost a partner.

It’s natural to seek out light, warmth and coziness this time of year. It’s also the point of Christmas to share the warmth with all those who are suffering emotionally or physically, or both. Light the lamp, offer a hand and a kind word.