Reflections on the Season of Light

Cedar Carving of Supernatural Eagle. Artists Tseskinakhen W. Joel Good and William Good. Photograph taken by T. Leadem and used with permission of the Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada. The four points represent the four directions of the Wind who transported the Eagle to the World.

Editor’s Note: This week my friend Tim Leadem reflects on why light is so important to each of us. 

Every once in awhile I leave my tiny Island home and take a boat across a narrow channel of the Salish Sea to the City. I like to joke that in about 5 minutes time in the City I see more people than I am likely to see for perhaps a whole year on my Island home. It takes me a while to get accustomed to the sounds and to the speed at which life moves around and through me.

So I walk and I find myself looking up at buildings. On my last visit a few weeks ago, I spied a large colourful sculpture gracing the front wall of an art gallery. There is a plaque by the carving and, since I am a voracious reader of all things and genres, I learned the story of the Supernatural Eagle bringing light back into the world. 

The story is told by the Snuneymuxw First Nation (pronounced “Shoe-NAY-muth) and it goes like this: Long ago, White Raven stole the sun away and in the process was burnt black. Without the light of the sun, the world was plunged into a long darkness. All the people began to wail and lament in the deep night. They prayed to the Creator for the return of the Sun. The Creator heard their pleas and sent a messenger from the high heavens- the Supernatural Eagle. Carried by the four winds Supernatural Eagle flew up to the heavens to the Sun, then carried it in its chest. As the Eagle returned to earth it spread its vast wings as light returned and the people were saved.

As the length of days recede towards the winter solstice, it is easy to believe that the sun is disappearing from our world.  In bleak winter we long for the return of the sun to warm our world.  We are creatures who see things in dualistic ways: light and dark; good and evil; life and death.  We look to some entity to bring the light back to our world.  So many cultures and religions share this theme whether we call this being God, or Jesus Christ, or even Supernatural Eagle.

We are in need of the light of salvation – or at least the self-acknowledgment that there is a higher being who loves us, who can save us if we will it. Mostly, we need to be saved from ourselves – from the war and darkness that pervades and occasionally invades our souls.

At such dark times, we look to the heavens for the light to shine through. As New Year comes and we look back at this Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Diwali, may we pause between the festivities, to focus upon the life of our soul, and to ask for grace to experience the lightness of being.



  1. Daniel

    Nice retelling of a local story with a universal theme. Your reflections bring the light of understanding.

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Daniel for reminding us of the imnportance of story in deepening understanding and walking towards the light.

  2. Dallas Itzen

    I am uplifted by this story and your perspective. Thank you. As a student of Buddhism and meditation, I find light in letting go of habitual self-securing thoughts and like you say, experience the lightness of being. Light brings clarity, hope, growth. I often use a light as a focal point when meditating as a reminder of qualities you describe. Kindly, D

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Dallas. I appreciate your practical ways to make attention to light part of daily living. Peace, Tom