Written as part of an Advent Daily Devotional for the UCC in Wallace, Idaho
Eight hours and twenty-seven minutes is all the daylight we get today. Just a smidgeon more than one-third of the twenty-four hours in this day. Sounds about right, given all the illness, death, division, restrictions, precautions, disappointments and down right destitution that are swirling about. Darkness abounds. We’ve also sunk to the average cold point of the year, and while I’m as big a fan of winter as any, I prefer it with a hint of sun and a coating of snow. Picky, I know, but damp and dark just don’t do much to warm my heart or lift my spirits.
You don’t need me to tell you that these are hard days, but for a lot of reasons that may not be obvious, I do keep telling you. First of all, to give you permission to feel what you feel and be where you are. And to encourage you to not try to pretty it up, resist slapping a smile and a bow over the blahs and tears, but to sit with it and be gentle with yourself. There’s an abundance of grief and loss floating about, even for those of us who can’t name the person we’re missing. We’ve all lost more this year than is immediately obvious, and we need to hold that loss tenderly – in ourselves as well as others.
The good news is that it won’t always be this way. By Christmas Day, we’ll have one more minute of sunlight than we do today. I was a little surprised to learn that the turn-about happens that slowly, but I’m clinging to it just the same. And to the confidence that by March, I’ll be reveling in lengthening days. The roll out of the vaccines won’t happen much faster than the return of the light, but it’s coming too. None of this will last forever; trust and hope carry me through, especially on the days when evidence is in short supply.
And then there’s God, who refused to let the beloved people sit in the dark by themselves, without comfort or the ability to find the light, and so God came among us to help us find our way. God still comes, sometimes in microscopic shifts and changes that we only recognize when we see the accumulation in the rearview mirror. And sometimes in the bold and dramatic, like this year when Saturn and Jupiter align in just the right way at just the right time, and God and the universe conspire to deliver the gift of a rare Christmas star, not seen since 1226. Apparently, they agree this might be a year that calls for a once-in-800-years declaration of hope and deliverance, promise and peace.
My friends, the light does indeed shine in the darkness and the darkness has not, will not, cannot overcome it. Thanks be to God.