The Light

Posted by Andy Charnstrom on

Dear Friends:
The season is upon us--Christmas is here.  I write this on the first day of Winter, after the longest night of the year.  I read a story--and we have to be careful today in knowing what is reliable--but the story said that last night was the longest and darkest night in the past 500 years.  I know only that darkness set in early for me and it is difficult, this morning, to shake it.  Have I forgotten the words I have shared, the prophecies and the Gospels and the Epistles, telling us of the struggles of ancient times?  Have I missed my own messages, shared these past four Sundays of Advent, of Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love?  Would I, who have called for others to create an opening to the light in this season, block out the light myself with my own fretting over frozen pipes, or a sick-but-getting-better pet, or the ever-present end of year money questions?
I think it is fitting to celebrate the Birth of Christ, as we do here in Indiana, at the darkest time of the year.  Perhaps it is too dark in North Dakota, where some of my family roots remain, and not dark enough in Florida, where some have migrated.  I struggle to imagine what it must be like in Argentina or Peru or anywhere that Christmas Day follows closely the first day of Summer (though I might be willing to try it sometime).  Indiana has it just about right for me.  The darkness has come and we wait.  We wait and we wonder and, at times, we struggle and grow impatient.  We wait for the light.  We wait for The Light.  We wait as though The Light is coming from far away, beyond the edges of the darkness, completely outside the sphere in which we live our everyday lives.  We wait and we wonder and, mostly through force of habit, we hope for the coming of The Light--hope that is not wishing, not wanting, but expectation.  And in our waiting, we remember.  For some, like me, memory helps with the advent of The Light; for others, though, I realize that remembering only increases the darkness and further obscures The Light.  
Still, The Light appears.  It may begin as a pinprick of a difference in a still-quite-inky sky, or it may come bursting in like the appearance of an angel over a Bethlehem meadow.  But The Light grows, becoming brighter, more intense, nearer, so that it is not only visible to the eye but warming to the body, the heart and the soul.  If we allow it, The Light will enter in and take up residence within us.  If we will hold on, we can cling to The Light so that, even as the external signs fade--the packages and bows, the twinkling decorations, the tree and even the best behavior of children and the kindnesses of strangers--The Light remains in us.  Oh, that it would be so this time!
The season is upon us now.  When I hear those words, or when I think or speak them, I am reminded of a beautiful Christmas song, one written by John Denver for Frank Sinatra to record; I confess, I've never heard the Sinatra version, but I listen to John Denver sing it each year, and it goes like this:

The season is upon us now
A time for gifts and giving
And as the year draws to its close
I think about my living

The Christmas time when I was young,
The magic and the wonder,
But colors dull and candles dim,
And dark my standing under

O little angel, shining light
You've set my soul to dreaming
You've given back my joy in life
And filled me with new meaning

A Savior King was born that day,
A baby just like you,
And as the Magi came with gifts,
I come with my gift too
That peace on Earth fills up your time,
That brotherhood surrounds you.

That you may know the warmth of love,
And wrap it all around you
It's just a wish, a dream I'm told
From days when I was young

Merry Christmas, little Zachary
Merry Christmas, everyone
Merry Christmas, little Zachary
Merry Christmas, everyone

And so, for you, my prayer for the season is that a shining Light will give back your joy in life and fill you with new meaning, that peace on Earth will fill up your time, that brotherhood will surround you and that you will be wrapped in the warmth of love.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tags: christmas, darkness, light, solstice