Every year, on or about December 21, and for three days, the sun sits still at the northernmost point above the earth marking the shortest day of the year. As the sun begins its gradual descent southward towards the earth during the winter moths, there is shift out of darkness into light as the days- ever so slightly and imperceptibly – become longer and the nights shorter.
In many parts of the world, this is traditionally a time to celebrate the return of light after long days of darkness. In the ancient world, for those who worked the land, the glimmer of light at Solstice offered a reprieve from months of cold and dark and near starvation. It was a blessed assurance that in the fertile darkness of the winter months the barren earth would nurture the seeds of Spring.
Likewise, in our times, the waxing light is a beckoning to venture into the fertile darkness of our souls where all growth and new life occurs. In the stillness and contemplation of that darkness, we prepare for rebirth and reconnection. In Solstice rituals, Christmas services, Hanukkah observances, and Epiphany celebrations there is then this common thread of hope. We awaken to the presence of the Light within us to lead us out of ourselves and beyond ourselves to the festive table of wholeness and communion.
In the promise of light’s return
we go forth into the darkness
to seek the wisdom of those who have gone before us,
the guidance of those who accompany us,
the glimmer of home within our pilgrim souls
so that in the days to come,
we may nurture those hungry for love,
be still with those restless with confinement,
take heed of those crying in the wilderness,
welcome those arriving at our door.
And in so doing,
make our lives holy
in all manner of things.
May we live in the hope of Light returning.
May we give thanks to the Light permeating all creation.
May we be released from the fear of our Light.
Where there is darkness, may we bring Light.
May we seek the Divine Light in ourselves and in one another.
~ mbh ~
And so, on Christmas, in the season of waxing light, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World. In this excerpt from her timely Christmas message, Joan Chittester evokes the universal theme of rebirth that rings throughout the Yule season.
“Every year of life waxes and wanes. Every stage of life comes and goes. Every facet of life is born and then dies. Every good moment is doomed to become only a memory. Every hope dims and every possibility turns eventually to dry clay. Until Christmas comes again.Then we are called at the deepest, most subconscious, least cognizant level to begin to live again. Christmas brings us all back to the crib of life to start over again: aware of what has gone before, conscious that nothing can last, but full of hope that this time, finally, we can learn what it takes to live well, grow to full stature of soul and spirit, and get it right.”