Late autumn temperatures in the northeast United States require a certain fortitude of speech to continue naming the cold “autumn” when, clearly, the chill in the air and the snow underfoot are speaking the language of “winter.” My giant sunflowers bowed their heads in October, the pumpkins moldered in the compost pile long before Thanksgiving, and the Advent calendar ticks away the days toward the winter solstice, but mostly, I understand winter’s arrival by its long daily darkness.
It all begins as the perfect excuse for window candles and quiet evenings at home, but daylight keeps slipping through our fingers until, mole-like, we emerge from our holes into morning darkness and wash dinner dishes before blackened windows. This week, the earth’s axis will tilt us northerners to our farthest distance from the sun’s warmth, and even if we begin to feel the distance in our bones, the Lord of Creation is subject neither to solstice nor to circadian rhythms. God is just as present in the darkness as he is in the light, as David’s psalm delights to comfort us:
Even the darkness is not dark to you;Psalm 139:12
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
Comfort in the Darkness of Winter Solstice
This week, the earth’s axis will tilt us northerners to our farthest distance from the sun’s warmth, and even if we begin to feel the distance in our bones, the Lord of Creation is subject neither to solstice nor to circadian rhythms.Tweet
When the darkness seemed especially menacing to our sons, we would sing this truth in their bedrooms: “So you are safe ‘though the light grows dim. Even the darkness is light to him.”
When God spoke light into darkness, he didn’t eliminate darkness, but, rather, set boundaries around it for our good. Barbara Brown Taylor writes reassuringly that she has “learned things in the dark that have saved [her] life over and over again.” There are some lessons that can be learned only in the dark.
Everything from tulip bulbs to sleeping children needs darkness. If you have been Welcoming the Light with me during this Advent season, you will have noticed by now that every day’s appearance of light is a unique event with some days putting on a colorful show and others slowly dissolving into gray, but it does arrive. Knowing this, that we are not alone in the dark, that light will eventually come, we can let the darkness do its needful work in us.
This is the message which we have heard from him and declare to you that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.”1 John 1:5
In the coming days, we will celebrate the birth of a Savior who emerged from the darkness of the womb into a dark period of history to love us toward his True Light.
With the turning of the season, rejoice with me that God will one day extinguish all darkness as bleak winter will be forever swallowed up in everlasting light and life. In the meantime, there is no darkness that can separate us from the love of God!
Holding you in the Light,
Part of my own Christmas and end-of-year obedience will include a pulling back here as I spend time with family and invest energy in quiet recharging for next year’s writing, teaching, and living. I’ll be back here on the 29th, in time for the December Book Talk. Blessings to you as you celebrate the arrival of the Light of the World!
Everything from tulip bulbs to sleeping children needs darkness. Knowing this, that we are not alone in the dark, that light will eventually come, we can let the darkness do its needful work in us.Tweet
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