This has been quite a year and not a particularly good or cheerful year. At times, it seemed so dark and hopeless.
Yearly on December 21, I always look forward to the longest and darkest day of the year, because on December 22, daylight gradually becomes longer and longer as the days lengthen.
I often imagine what it must have been like before electricity and how people must have huddled around their fires not only for warmth and comfort but also for light to work and socialize by.
One year, a long time ago, my mother decided that we were going to embrace the winter practice of lighting the kerosene lamps after dinner, communing in the family room around the fireplace with no use of electric lights or television. It was received with mixed reviews. Those nights during the dark days were nice. We would do puzzles in near darkness or play cards. I would knit or read. Sometimes, my mother would make us read aloud to each other. Then as the days would get longer, and the nights shorter, we would stop that practice and spend more time outdoors doing spring things.
For me, this entire year seems to have been washed with darkness. On the 21st , after all the rain and wind of the day’s storm, the clouds parted and as luck would have it, I was outside with the dogs, when I looked up. There I saw the moon and what remained of the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. A sign from God? Perhaps.
I’m always looking for signs from God in my daily life. The occasional rainbow that just won’t go away. The song on the radio. The scripture reading. A message from a friend. The photo stuck in a book that randomly falls out only to remind me of something. But when I looked up and saw the Moon and Planets in alignment, it struck my heart and my faith that God is with us, even during these dark, hopeless times.
In our Gospel this morning, John writes: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. These words have very special meaning especially in times when we feel like we are hopeless or in danger. Times when we think we just can’t go on any longer.
These words remind us that God is very much with us, beside us, in us, and watching over us in the good times and in the bad times. Even when we don’t understand our situation or why things are so bad. Times when we question if God is real. Or if he really cares or listens to us. God really does shine his light down upon us. Good stuff to think about.
Also in our Gospel today, John writes: “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the Light of all People”.
Christ is our light. He gives us light to help us walk in the darkness when we forget our own flashlights. He gives us light to huddle around when we are cold and weak. He is the light and warmth of the sun in the morning, and the glow of that moon at night.
Sunday in my Celtic Prayer cycle of The Northumbria Community revolves around prayers from St. Ita. Her ministry emphasized the examination of one’s heart, and the prayers of care and protection of each soul who crosses our path.
In her daily rite are these words:
“Be their light in darkness.
Be their hope in distress.
Be their calm in anxiety.”
May your light of hope shine in the darkness today and every day.