We are in what Jews and Christians alike call The Season of Light, and this year, wonderfully, they nearly coincide. Hanukkah begins on December 23rd, the celebrations overlap, and I am looking forward to both. The Savior whose birth we celebrate had a star assigned to Him by His Heavenly Father, and it led the Babylonians straight to Him. Light was intrinsic to the completion of their search and the fulfillment of prophecy.
If there had been no Maccabees, and Antiochus’ particular holocaust had been successful, there would be no miraculous birth to celebrate, no reason to bless anyone with gifts, sing any songs, cook special foods, or to gather with friends and family. Once again, a miracle occurred in the form of the menorah being lit for eight days when there was only enough oil for one day. And it is no surprise that it was light sustained by the Father of lights.
Lately I have been fascinated by the life and work of a scientist by the name of Augustin-Jean Fresnel. His name is pronounced fruh-NELL, (the “s” is silent,) and the man was a true visionary when it comes to light. In the late 18th and early 19th century, he developed a system of beveled lights that, when properly configured, could exponentially increase the power of light long before the use of electricity or lasers.
What was Fresnel’s most famous application for his discovery? They were the lights that were placed in lighthouses. They saved lives, comforted travelers, provided guidance, and were staggeringly beautiful, day or night, due to the fact that science and art had passionately kissed. The Fresnel lights are as mesmerizing as they are protective, and I never get tired of looking at them.
Here is what amazes me about Fresnel: he did what he did in the midst of the French Revolution, was utterly rejected, and he also had tuberculosis. TB took his life at the age of 39. Let’s just say he got the job done in the face of extraordinary adversity, was way ahead of his time, and he didn’t exactly have a “safe space” to run to if the Revolution got rowdy.
This brings me to the question which is the topic of this Publisher’s Point: Are you a Fresnel or a flake? I am not trying to imply that if people don’t develop a technology that is unparalleled, and is still in use all over the world two centuries later, their value is in question. You don’t have to be a Fresnel to shine brightly, just don’t be a snowflake. Don’t be so weak that if your convictions are challenged or your candidate isn’t elected, you start melting and need a safe space provided by the US government to which to retreat. Don’t be a snowflake that vanishes the moment there is heat. Be someone who joins with other “prisms” to give light in this Season of Light, and always.
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to one and all!