Yesterday was the shortest day of the year. Today, with less than nine hours of daylight, will also be very short, but we've turned the corner. After months of increasing darkness we are turning toward the light. Longing for light seems to be rampant. In recent days light has come up in a wide variety of conversations:
- I have heard a number of people discussing the "Christmas Morning Rules" also known as "How early can the day start?" Parents want the tree lit, everyone properly garbed (though definitions differ.) One 8th grade boy gave me his Christmas morning formula this week. It was elaborate and involved sunrise, Christmas movies, collusion with siblings, and a dawning awareness of the joy of giving as this year he bought gifts for parents and siblings with money he had earned and saved.
- I discussed the hopes and fears of motherhood with a young woman whose first-born child will soon see the light of day. She is filled with joy and anticipation but also fear that she isn't ready. I could only reassure her that the child would help to show her the way.
- A friend who is currently living and working in the southern hemisphere is musing on her blog about Christmas in the "summer." She is a bit befuddled by the long days after spending most of her life with dark and snowy Christmases.
- As I drive up and down the streets of my town I enjoy the lights people have strung on trees and eaves and around windows. I love the inflatables lit from inside and the painted wooden cut-outs illuminated with spotlights. The light poles downtown are festooned with lamps, just for the season.
- Biblical accounts of the birth of Christ tell of angels appearing to shepherds with the glory of the Lord shining around them, and highlight the star that led the Magi to the manger.
- My new home also has gifts of lights. At the entrances are lights with motion detectors which turn on the light as I approach. In fact, as soon as I open the door from the garage the light begins to shine. Once inside, the hallway is also equipped with motion detectors so that I can step out without wondering what awaits me in the dark.
- The human eye can see the light of a single candle in full dark from a distance of 3.6 miles.
- John, the brilliant poet of the Gospel writes, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." Joseph Mohr, writer of the beloved hymn Silent Night, refers to the baby as "love's pure light."
Light is nearly always welcomed. It brings comfort, joy, relief from fear, sight, information, protection, and hope. Light fulfills our hopes. It is a fitting metaphor for the Christ child, and the Risen Christ to come.