Today is Bodhi Day, a holy day on the Buddhist calendar that has significance for all people at this time of year.
Bodhi means enlightenment and this day is a celebration of the Buddha experiencing his first true spiritual awakening, reached in the morning after a long night of meditation.
Buddhists see the morning star on Bodhi Day as a symbol of the Buddha's enlightenment.
The similarities to other spiritual and religious traditions are obvious.
A holy man comes to an epiphany in the morning after taking a dangerous, solitary journey through a long night of the soul. A deeper understanding of our connection to all things and to each other is revealed. A symbol of hope appears in the dark sky for all of humanity to strive for on our own individual paths through life.
As a community, we generate a lot of our own light.
NASA released a new Earth-at-night map this week and Prince George is clearly visible on it for two reasons. For one, it is surrounded by darkness so that bright dot is easily recognized and secondly, there are two ribbons of light emanating from Prince George, making up the communities lining Highway 16 from here to Prince Rupert and dotting Highway 97 from here to Kamloops.
Like the symbolic morning star, there are many sources of light that make up the single dot of Prince George that can be seen from space on a clear night.
Let's start with the people who answered former school board trustee Michelle Marrelli's call to help a local family who lost everything in a house fire early Monday morning. Within 72 hours of the fire, Chancy Henwood and his three sons had a new place to live on Carney Street, thanks to the owner of Knell Enterprises who also waived rent and the damage deposit for the first month, and more than they could possible use in household items and clothes from generous local residents.
Henwood's 20-year-old son even received replacement boots and work clothing for his new job.
The community has given so much that nothing more is needed and the excess will be paid forward to others in need.
"Thank you to all the Christmas angels in Prince George," Henwood said.
Bentley Degen is another Christmas angel in Prince George. Degen, the Prince George zone manager for Kal Tire, read about Eileen Caldwell, a community support worker at AimHi, on the Citizen's front page Thursday and stepped up. The four tires off Caldwell's car were stolen last week, prompting her friend and neighbour Joan Kavanah to contact The Citizen. The theft jeopardized a trip to Duncan on Vancouver Island for the recently-widowed Caldwell to spend Christmas with her son and his family.
Degen offered to pay the $300 deductible insurance fee so Caldwell can get back on the road and be with her family over the holidays.
"I have a permanent smile on my face now," Caldwell said. "I know Prince George has a heart in the community for helping people."
That heart shines so bright it can be seen from space, a beacon of hope in the cold darkness.
-- Managing editor Neil Godbout