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This time of year traditionally focuses on reflecting that which we have lost and naturally evokes feelings of loss, grief, sadness and despair. Much has been said recently on this subject and we have  experienced this in all manner of personal ways. But it is easy to forget that in the midst of all this darkness there remains the light, for there cannot be one without the other. As we draw together as a community, we look to the fruits of the summer and the spoils of our work to see us through the harsher times ahead and nowhere is this better reflected than in the children, who absorb all the energies and devotions lavished upon them in order that they will one day stand proud and carry the weight of the tribe.

It is therefore fitting that one of the darkest festivals of the year (Samhein/Halloween) is also marked as Jedi Youngling Day, a time when we honour those who are taking their first steps into the world as Jedi. Although this usually refers to those of a younger age, the same can be applied to all who have recently committed to the Jedi way. There's no such thing as an “instant expert” or a “shortcut Master” and everyone has had to start somewhere. Even those of us who have walked similar paths for many years can still find something new and exciting in every experience, every conversation, every new dawn, and it is with this spirit in mind that we celebrate.

Children are also innocent – as we grow we become cluttered by the experiences around us, the influences of those we meet, the opinions we form about the world, and this can blind us to the simple, joyous nature of the Force. We can spend so much time worrying about how to live our lives that we completely forget to experience it! As Jedi we strive to follow the principles and teachings embodied by the TOTJO Doctrine but we do this so that we may live for the greatest benefit to all, and to fulfil our highest purpose. In a sense we need to untrain ourselves from the baggage that we have picked up along the way.

As infants we exist in a state of wonder and joy, exploring the new world around us without fear. Consider the following lines from the Jedi Creed:
Where there is hatred I shall bring love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

Can you think of a better example of pure love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy than an innocent child? Even those who have achieved a state of divine bliss such as Jesus or Buddha have had to undo their lives to reach that point. As such, these great teachers recognise these principles as a source of inspiration:
“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-3)

As we mature, the responsibilities of society, family, work and other commitments may force us to let go of some of that enjoyment and to focus on more serious matters: “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. “ (1 Corinthians 13:11)

This weekend is an opportunity to enjoy yourself, to cut loose as if you were a child again, to once more explore that joyous feeling of wholesome abandon. Spread joy, make laughter, turn those frowns upside down. The seeds of the future are sown as the generations to come – they are the returning light that we will celebrate in all good time. So honour them, and yourselves.

May the Force be with you this season and always!