this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.
This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you will be walking
toward the dawn.
— Jan Richardson (author of Circle of Grace)
I have felt the heaviness of endings this year. The quiet wordless weight of this year’s winter solstice has rested upon me in the way a deep wet snow blankets the wide stoic shoulders of bare trees. But today, there on the edge of awareness, the promise remains. The apex of the solstice has already passed and the journey to balance has begun. The spring is foretold. The light returns.
…Christmas will come once again.
The great transformation will once again happen.
God would have it so.
Out of the waiting, hoping, longing world,
a world will come in which the promise is given.
All crying will be stilled.
No tears shall flow.
No lonely sorrow shall afflict us anymore, or threaten.
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a sermon to a church in Havana, Cuba December 21, 1930
Gloomy night embraced the place
Where the Noble Infant lay;
The Babe looked up and showed his face,
In spite of darkness, it was day.
It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night;
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.
~Richard Crashaw from “In the Holy Nativity of Our Lord” (17th century poet)
On this day of longest darkness, I look out the window eagerly anticipating a post-solstice reprieve from interminable night. I seek that promise of being led back into the light, even if it will take months to get there. It is a promise that keeps me going even if I can barely perceive the few minutes of extra daylight tomorrow – the simple knowledge that things are changing, getting lighter and brighter. I harvest hope from this.
God made light through His Word, not once but twice. In the beginning, He created the sun and the moon to penetrate and illuminate the creation of our hearts and our souls. In the stable He came to light the world from below as well as from above so our hearts and souls could be saved from self-destruction.
I am showered with His light even on the longest night of the year and forever more, lit from the glory of God reflected in the many faces of Jesus: as newborn, refugee seeking sanctuary, child teacher, working carpenter, healer, itinerant preacher, unjustly condemned, dying and dead, raised and ascended Son of God.
Let the dark days come as they certainly will. They cannot overwhelm me now that I’m lit from within, no matter how deeply the darkness oppresses.
I know His promise.
I know His face.
He knows I know.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4: 6
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