The Shortest Day…
… always feels significant. Perhaps there is more than a little pagan in me, as I fully understand why, in pre-Christian eras, people marked these turning points in the pattern of changing day length. The primitive fear in these darkest of days that the sun itself had died, conquered by the growing darkness, found relief a few days later in the “Feast of the Unconquered Sun” (Sol Invictus), when it became evident that light was fighting back and defeating the gloom.
And so we celebrate Christmas on that old feast-day, and, for us, it becomes the feast of the “Unconquered SON”. Great stuff! Andrew and I celebrated a day or two early with a bonfire at our little highland retreat, shared with my niece, her husband and their yet-to-be-born child. Exciting times.
Although people understandably celebrate the return of light (especially generations before electricity) part of me wants to hold onto these short, dark days for they are a vital part of the rhythm of life. When we lived in the Caribbean I sorely missed the changing length of days – not just the long summer evenings, but also the short, almost non-existent, winter afternoons.
A few years ago I was introduced to the book “Learning to walk in the dark” by Barbara Brown Taylor of which she says “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light“. How true. It is a book I wholeheartedly commend for its ability to speak about the kind of faith which has space for doubt, the kind of light which pays attention to shade.
Photos of darkness don’t tend to come out well, but here are two from recent days in the Highlands – fairy lights and a bonfire, both made more exciting by the darkness (& the snow!)
It is no surprise to me, in looking back, to discover that I wrote a blog-post (Dayspring from on high) on this date last year, and said many of the same things then!
In Isaiah 45:3 God says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness…” – may they be yours on this shortest day.