From Wente's Desk logo

As the days get shorter, colder, and darker, our natural tendency as humans is to seek warmth, light, and comfort in the company of others. 

Our impulse to gather and to light up the darkness is on full display during this festive season at Wake Forest. Indeed, as I end my third fall semester at Wake Forest, I am struck by how many of Wake Forest’s special traditions are connected by a single action: the lighting of candles. 

Students share candle light at the Lighting of the Quad

Just after Thanksgiving break, we welcomed the season by huddling together in the cold and counting down for the annual “Lighting of the Quad” – an especially poignant moment for our newest Wake Forest students seeing Hearn Plaza aglow for the first time; and an opportunity for many other students, faculty and staff to enjoy the beauty of this campus together. In addition to the radiant lighting of the trees and luminaries that ring the Quad, we also passed candlelight from one person to the next as we stood encircling the entire brick walk — a symbolic sharing of our light with one another. 

President Wente and a student share candle light at Lovefeast

On December 3, we came together in the calm and peaceful sanctuary of Wait Chapel to celebrate Lovefeast, a cherished event at Wake Forest since 1965 and rooted in Winston-Salem’s historical ties to the Moravian tradition. A key part of the ceremony is focused on a simple idea — the power of a common meal to bring people together in community across differences and divides, and to cultivate love and peace in the exchange. And, again, we also lit candles together, and we passed that light from one person to the next, connecting us all in our shared humanity. 

Students at a podium with the menorah

We also celebrated the first night of Hannukah with the lighting of the larger-than-life menorah on Manchester Plaza and reflections on the power of light to vanquish darkness, even in the darkest of times. I was heartened to see students, as well as faculty and staff colleagues, from across religious and cultural backgrounds, join the gathering to celebrate and reflect alongside our Wake Forest Jewish community. 

As we close another semester together, I am reflecting on the extraordinary power we hold as individuals and as a Wake Forest community. We are uniquely united by our motto to lend our light to others. In her remarks during Lovefeast, Reverend Dr. K. Monet Rice-Jalloh expressed this sentiment so well: “Together, we have the power to eradicate darkness… Be careful with the flame, but be exuberant with your light. For it is capable of bringing joy to our world.” 

May we all strive to be exuberant with our light and bring joy to others in this season and throughout the coming new year. 

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