I cannot tell you how the light comes.
What I know is that it is more ancient than imagining.
That it travels across the astounding expanse to reach us.
That it loves searching out what is hidden
What is lost
What is forgotten
Or in peril or in pain.
That it has a fondness for the body
For finding its way toward flesh,
For tracing the edges of form,
For shining forth through the eye
The hand, the heart.
I cannot tell you how the light comes, But that it does.
That it will.
That it works its way into the deepest dark that enfolds you
Though it may seem long ages in coming
Or arrive in a shape you did not foresee.
And so may we this day turn ourselves toward it.
May we lift our faces
oTo let it find us.
May we bend our bodies to follow the arc it makes.
May we open and open more
And open still to the blessed light that comes.—”What the Light Shines Through”, by Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief
Friends, as we come to the end of another year, I am keenly aware that many of us carry heavy things in our hearts—losses, anxieties, uncertainties. The holidays are fast approaching, but like last year, COVID is on the rise. This time a new variant.
Despite our distraction with the holidays, I want to draw our attention first to Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year. The sun travels its shortest path through the sky, resulting in the day of the year with the least sunlight and therefore, the longest night.
Also called the hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice, this winter solstice occurs when either of Earth’s poles reaches its maximum tilt away from the Sun. In the cold and dark of our North American hemisphere, it is the paradox of winter. She begins to breathe her icy breath, even as her fist is forced to release her grasp to the lengthening days. It makes me think of Advent, that curious paradox of the “now and now yet”which Christians observe this time of the year. Even as hearts are preparing for the coming of the Christ child— to make way for him to come anew, perhaps with fresh eyes—he has already been born over 2000 years ago! We stand poised. Waiting. Watching. Hoping. It is a liminal time. Our bodies and souls feel the tension, the encroaching cold.
The night sky was also part of this ancient birth, as the story goes. There was a star…..or actually a comet.
So, go out on December 21. Look up. See the portents in the night sky—glittery stars, a moon, planets, a comet (Leonard’s comet is evidently visible!) Imagine galaxies and the Milky Way. Notice you are a speck on this brilliant earth that keeps moving along on it’s axis, no matter what trouble the human creature continues to create here on earth. We live in an amazing universe.
Early on the morning I wrote this, 4:30 am to be exact, I was awakened by a bright light shining in my face. It was as though a flashlight were being directly focused on me. Startled, I sat up. The moon was glowing her bone white face directly on my face through the window. I smiled. Did La Luna have a message for me—this gentle lady of the night? It only lasted a few moments. Then she slipped silently down the Northwestern horizon and disappeared from view. I thanked her for such a beautiful moment. Such a clear visitation.
Thank you moon. Thank you bright stars. Thank you earth axis, continuing to hold us fast, despite our waywardness and sorrows. All is well in your firmament.