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Unlike most years, I've been much more aware that this is the longest night of the year. It is the reason for at least one local church service, and also a prayer labyrinth walk. I've seen several devotionals about the spiritual impact of moving out of darkness into light.
This year I decided to try going mostly without electrical light for the evening.
The effect changes the atmosphere. The darkness is closer.
With the candles lit, it is also warmer, more friendly.
We did not abandon tasks at the computer, and we listened to music, so electricity was still part of our evening. But the ambiance is different.
I did the crossword and sudoku in the newspaper by candlelight.
I'm ready for longer days.
I'm also ready to be able to see more clearly in other ways.
I'm certain that the days will now get longer.
I'm not as certain that clarity is on its way. But I can hope.
Maybe that is a bit of what Christmas is about.
Not knowing what is ahead.
Things not working out as planned.
Pondering things in our hearts.
Following stars through dark nights past dangerous people.
Being filled with awe.
Worship amidst the mundane and the holy, all in the same place.
We don't know the actual birth date of Jesus.
But celebrating it near the winter solstice makes sense.
We are physically ready for more light in a different way than we are the rest of the year.
We feel it with our bodies as well as our souls.