Winter Solstice & The Light of the World

I awoke today at 7 a.m. and it was barely light outside.  If I want to take a walk before it gets dark, I’ll have to go before I even start dinner.  The race against sundown.

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.  December is a month of darkness, cold afternoons, and slumbering nature.  Yet, on this day, December also brings the promise of light.

Beginning tomorrow, our days literally become lighter.  Beginning tomorrow, daylight returns a little more each day.

We naturally seek light in this dark month.  We try to get outdoors in the afternoon when it’s a little warmer, the dark curtain of night looming, then we shelter inside the lit spaces we create at home.  That’s partly why we love our Christmas trees glittering, our candles flickering, and our homes ablaze with color.  But we Catholic Christians see more than that on this day.

Some people make a big deal about the solstice, even having grand celebrations.  There’s nothing really wrong with that, as long you recognize the solstice is a natural astronomical event, not something to worship or divinize.  As Catholics, while we recognize a reason to celebrate the cyclical return of natural light, we celebrate something more astounding.

We celebrate this weekend the birth of the Messiah, the true light of the world, he who conquered darkness.

I have so much to celebrate in anticipating the birthday of the True Light — I don’t have time to celebrate the solstice.

The love of Christ fills my home this week.  His salvific power reaches my heart through the intimacy of family – my children, husband, and extended family.  It reaches me in many ways, but mostly through family. It’s truly a gift.

But I have to be still enough to embrace the gift, don’t I?  Christ has crushed any darkness that really matters.  As for that darkness beyond my window, it helps me be still in many ways so that I can really hear and see – so that I can hear him, recognize him working and creating something beautiful.

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