When I was a child, nothing brought me more joy than summer camp. I would beg my mother to let me stay more weeks. The rope swing over the river, the counselor skits at dinner, the girls’ banter in the cabin, the massive games at night in the woods, and the campfire singing were all highlights. But the most magical moment was walking home in the dark and looking up at the sky to see more stars than I had ever seen in my life.
I thought of this when I read what the director of the Vatican Observatory said about the Winter solstice. Brother Guy Consolmagno said, “It is an interesting metaphysical as well as as astronomical truth, that it is only when you have good darkness that you can see the faint lights, whether it is faint stars or the little points of light, the thousand points of light that bring us hope even in darkness.” Of course the reason I could see that mesmerizing blanket of shimmering stars at summer camp was because we had “good darkness.” The stars were always there but I couldn’t see them from my home in the busy well-lit city.
This winter we have all been facing more darkness that we would have wanted. Maybe it is sickness, or economic despair, or longing for family and friends, or spiritual hunger for church or just a malaise and ever present worry. But we have also been noticing with increased clarity the radiant goodness of our lives: faith, family, community, solitude, health, friendship, kindness of strangers, the joy of service. The gospel of John tells the Christmas story without Mary and Joseph. Instead it reads: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it…The true light, which enlightens everyone was coming into the world.”
My prayer for you on this Christmas Eve, my prayer for all of us, is that in the darkness we will see the light of God’s love, goodness, joy and new life.
Grace and Peace,