It usually starts in November. Some homeowner, a little in advance of his neighbors, perhaps concerned that the weather may not hold, spends a brisk but sunny Saturday afternoon stringing lights around his home and through his trees. A few days later, more homes bear their annual load of colored twinkling points of energy. Later still, more homes are gently illuminated by the glow of candles, streaming forth from a Menorah or multiplied by reflection in the glass ornaments of a Christmas tree.
Here, in our nation's capitol, neighborhood after neighborhood blazes forth, some with displays costing tens of thousand of dollars, some with single electric candles from the local dime store. And one is just as beautiful as the other.
Across America, the scene is repeated thousands of times, in great cities, small towns, and isolated farm homes_the last all the more touching because it is pure celebration, with no neighbors to impress and little chance of being seen even by the casual, belated motorist.
This is the season when America comes home.
This is the season when families gather.
Around fireplaces or in electrically-heated rooms, by candlelight or under high-tech lamps, they gather just to be home. This is the season, above all, when we feel cheated and lessened if we cannot be with those we love.
And America comes home in another way, too. We come home to basic values, to the best that is in us, to the Light.
Yes, there is commercialism, and yes, we spend too much, and yes, we become grouchy, and yes, we complain that the spirit has gone out of the season. But it hasn't really.
Because we do come home - and we come home to the Light. If we pass a Salvation Army kettle, we feel a little twinge of guilt, mixed with annoyance. Often, we either turn back or drop some money in the next one we see. We hear a carol and deep memories stir. The accidental smell of cinnamon makes our heart drop for a moment as we are carried back to the kitchen of our childhood and the smell of cookies hot from the oven and the knowledge that we were warm and secure and loved.
We come home, at least in our thoughts, to love and comfort and faith and honor and all the things which filled our childhood with the knowledge of goodness.
And all those lights, all those countless millions of lights, all those timely beacons in the darkness, are apt symbols in the mind of the Mason of the Light we all seek. And we come home, Masonically, as well.