I have found this month a new spiritual practice. Walking my neighborhood at 4:30 pm. I know this is a luxury to be able to walk in a safe neighborhood with my dog, husband and college student. I am grateful.
I also have had walking as part of my routine as far back as I can remember. Walking is nothing new.
This year, as the earth turns and our days get shorter and shorter, and as the oppressiveness of the pandemic and all its consequences, fear, death, anger, sadness, and as the memories of past loved ones no longer with me surface to my mind at an uncharacteristic frequency, I find my walks at that exact particular time to be what I need.
We watch the sky as the sun sets in the West, often we see a spattering of clouds edging colors of pink, blue and green when the dark finally covers like a blanket. Slowly and quickly the stars blink through the black sky and neighborhood houses begin their sequence of lighting. We exclaim our joy of each house that has been dressed up to bring in the season of Christmas. To bring light in our dark world.
I have needed this time. I need this light. We all need the light.
We come to December 21 every year. The longest night. Sun setting earlier every day, even if it’s seconds it can feel like minutes. Hours earlier. Each day.
In the church, we have been marking this day to recognize this time can be very difficult for so many. This year, for most of us.
In the church, we have been moving through Advent. We are getting ready for the light of the world. The light that cannot be overcome. We are getting ready for Jesus. Remembering when God came down to dwell among us.
It is also so important to remember in this season of getting ready for Christmas, when merry and bright is the theme, we remember that Christ came in the night. In the cold night. It was not in the morning when birds are singing welcome to the world, or during the hustle of the midday sun when cries of a newborn go unnoticed.
God came down in the bleak mid-winter dark sky. In a barn with cows and sheep and all the sounds and smells and sights that includes.
Our God, in Jesus Christ, came in the night to become the light for those lost, broken, needing more, hoping for a reprieve. This child is the light that breaks through the darkness. It is for all of us and for any and every moment of our days.
As we move ahead, in just a few days, we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. For some of us we will be able to fully embrace the chorus of angels that sing “Glory to God in the highest, peace and good will to all.” For some this song may be faintly heard if at all.
My prayer as we go forward, the light that comes in the darkness will be experienced by everyone. Whether it is just the glimmering of light that shines from the homes down the street, with the music of the church on your computer or in the company of yourself and the glimmering of the night sky. My prayer is that the Light comes in.