This Friday, 21 December, will be the longest night of the year. Some celebrate the Winter Solstice, the day with the fewest hours of daylight in the whole year, and where the sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky. This year, we will be one day short of a full moon, which will light up the sky on the longest night of the year.
For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, this great happening in nature coincides with our anticipation of the Feast of the Incarnation – Emmanuel, God with us and taking on human flesh and dwelling among us. Christ is our Light. As John writes in his gospel, “In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.”
In just one short week we will celebrate the Incarnation, beginning on Christmas Eve. Will our hearts and minds be ready? Every year we seem to fall into a flurry of activity and much of it is good, very good. Some things can distract us from this Holy Season and in the rush to get everything done on our to-do list, we may grow short on patience, compassion, and understanding.
My prayer for all of us is that we will carve out some time in the coming week to be fully present to what really matters: our family and loved ones, those who make our lives easier and more pleasant, those who need a smile or a word of encouragement, or those who have no one to care for them.
And then there is God. God is just waiting, longing for us to take a moment to be still and hang out with the One who created us – the One in whom we live and move and have our being. Just a moment or two, that’s all.
I offer to you this prayer I came across recently that really spoke to me. I hope it will speak to you as well.
A prayer at the shortest day
From the rising of the midwinter sun to its setting
Scatter the darkness with the light of Your love, O Shining One.
Make me short on mean thoughts, long on offering words of comfort.
Make me short on being driven, long on paying attention.
Make me short on focusing only on my own, long on looking beyond.
Make me short on obsessive lists, long on spontaneous acts of kindness.
Make me short on mindless activity, long on time to reflect.
Make me short on tradition as habit, long on re-discovery and re-owning.
Make me short on rushing and tiring, long on walking and wondering.
Make me short on false festive jollity, long on stilling and rooted joy.
Make me short on guilt, long on being merciful to myself.
Make me short on being overwhelmed, long on peaceableness as I set forth this day.
~ Tess Ward, from Celtic Daily Prayer, Book Two.
Faithfully yours in Christ,