Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere (you folks down South have to wait until June 21 🙂 ). The longest night. The darkest day.
I understand that the birth of Jesus is supposed to have happened sometime in September, according to the scholars. I understand that the insertion of the Christ mass into the Winter Solstice was probably done by Catholic priests to transform pagan celebrations into a Christian holiday. I understand that many of the symbols of our Christmas season are remnants of these pagan rituals. Frankly, I don’t really care.
I remember a dark night my wife and I suffered. We drove through dead Iowa cornfields with no moon and no stars. The only light we saw for a long time was that produced by our headlights as we drove away from a place that had caused us pain. We were depressed. But deep in our hearts there was a twinkle of light, a truth that would not be extinguished. In spite of the darkness and pain, we were loved with an everlasting love. There would be a new beginning, a new life. That promise sustained us on that trip.
In the midst of the darkest day, the longest night, a light shines to lift our spirits. Maybe it is appropriate that we celebrate the greatest gift during the time of long nights. Maybe all the lights and glitter and candles can remind us that there is One who shines into our darkest days with love and acceptance. And maybe we can remember that there will be a time with no night, when the Light of the World will fill our hearts with sunshine forever.