Christmas, Veritas, and Competition

Growing up, one of my favorite days of the year was the day after Thanksgiving.  For many, the day after Thanksgiving is exciting because they love to shop ‘till they drop on Black Friday.  Now, despite not being a big shopper, I did always look forward to getting out of the house to see what was in the stores and always hoped we would see some family members while out and about.  The main reason I always looked forward to the day after Thanksgiving, however, was because my mom, aunt, cousin (and sometimes others) would often go to a small, outdoor zoo that always debuts their Christmas lights display the day after Thanksgiving.  And, what can be more fun than hot chocolate and colorful lights (in sync with music of course) breaking through the early darkness that comes with winter nights in Wisconsin?  

A picture from the zoo lights display I took in 2012.

This year, as I am in conversation with others about what it means to be a Dominican, I can’t help but notice the similarity between Christmas lights and the Dominican Cross.  The Dominican Cross is meant to symbolize the light of truth penetrating the darkness of this world.  For me, Christmas lights easily tie into this because the Christmas lights shining in the darkness remind me how God came to us as a baby to be the perfect light in the darkness of this world.

One of my Sisters gave this Dominican cross necklace to me
on the Feast of All Dominican Saints when I was a candidate.

Now, what does this have to do with competition?  You see, among the many things Dominicans are known for, two of them are Veritas (Truth) and Disputatio (a medieval practice where, when in debate with others, one focuses more on seeking the truth the other speaks than on proving the other person wrong).  What I appreciate about Disputatio is that it encourages those debating each other to set their ego aside for the sake of learning from those they are in conversation with.  For me, this practice is an excellent reminder that I am not the source of truth (Veritas); God, who is in all things, is. In a world that encourages an unhealthy level of competition (do kids really need to be competing for starting positions at such an early age in sports?) what a great opportunity Dominicans have, through Disputatio, to show the world it is always better to set aside one’s pride for the sake of truly listening, and being present, to those before us.  

A friendly game of Crokinole is the most
common way our competitive side comes out.