Home » Reflections » Celebrate the Light in our lives, amidst the world’s darkness, this season


Celebrate the Light in our lives, amidst the world’s darkness, this season


As part of the brighter side of Christmas, visitors to the Woods and White Violet Center for Eco-Justice during Christmas Fun at the Woods made crafts from alpaca fiber.

I think I was in graduate school when I learned the phrase “cognitive dissonance.” Definition?
Psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.

What in heaven’s sake brings this to my mind at this time of year? I find myself psychologically and emotionally conflicted in both belief and attitude/feeling as the day of Christmas arrives.


The Dec. 14, 2014 slaying of 138 Pakistani children and the love, laughter, affection I witnessed as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children of all ages visited our Woods on the Saturday before for our annual Christmas Fun at the Woods winter festival. (Check out the pictures of the festival on our website!)

The Dec. 14, 2014 massacre of 138 Pakistani children and the delightful photos in our local newspaper of the Dec. 18, 2012 gathering of children invited to meet Santa and receive presents by the Kiwanis Club of Terre Haute.

The Dec. 14, 2014 murder of 138 Pakistani children and the entry for Christmas Day from the book “Fragments of Your Ancient Name” by Sister Joyce Rupp:

Child of Bethlehem
So easy to place you on a spotless pedestal,
Forgetting how you came to dwell with us,
Came, as all children come into the world,
A small babe with bloody umbilical cord,
A wee infant nuzzling your mother’s breast,
Crying out in need and filling your diapers.
How tremendous the truth of your incarnation,
Humbling yourself to vulnerable dependency,
O Child of Bethlehem, for every child alive today
Protect them in their poverty of defenselessness.

Today: I join my heart with the children of the world.

In the face of these dissonant realities – the massacre, acts of care and respect for children, the poem, I have to ask myself: is it incongruous to believe in Christmas, in the difference made by the birthing of God into our midst?

Is it incongruous to believe that that birthing, that Presence, made and still makes a difference for the good in this world of God’s creation?

Is it incongruous to believe, deep-deep-down believe that Providence loves and cares for each and every one of us, every speck of Creation, every filament in the cosmos?

Maybe the only thing I really have to ask myself is this: to which energy will I commit myself? Will I – in ways small or big – transmit the energy of violence and hate? Will I – in ways small and big – transmit the energy of God I know as Providence, as Love enfleshed?

I know my answer – that’s why I dare to wish each of you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart. That’s why I dare to celebrate with you the presence of the Light in our lives – the Light sent to drive away the darkness.

In the energy of love, of Providence, let’s live what we know and believe. God is with us.

Merry Christmas!

Sister Denise Wilkinson

General Superior

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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  1. Avatar M on December 22, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Thank you, Denise! So true the conflict of feelings! And, with you, I’ll continue to commit myself to the God who is alive in every child.

  2. Avatar JB on December 31, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Thank you so much for voicing what so many of us feel when we confront the horrors and the wonders of this world and for the reminder that All Will Be Well when we choose to Love.

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