Many years ago, I was vacationing in the Western United States. I remember looking up at the night sky near Moab, Utah. I had never seen so many stars before. There were billions of them. The sky was like an umbrella of cosmic radiance. It was so clear and so beautiful, it was as if the entire universe was frozen in stillness. Southwestern skies are a stargazer’s dream. The skies are clearer there, in part, because of an absence of light pollution. It seems the farther we get from artificial light, the more we can see real light, in this case, the stars.
The season of Advent beckons us to move away from whatever “artificial” lights prevent us from seeing Jesus, the true light, more clearly. John the Baptist showed us how to do this. He humbled himself, knowing that one greater than he was coming. John’s words, “He must increase; I must decrease,” are echoed in the cosmos. We celebrate the feast of John the Baptist in late June around the summer solstice, which heralds the beginning of shorter days and longer nights. On the other hand, we celebrate the feast of the birth of Christ around the winter solstice, the beginning of shorter nights and longer days.
Indeed, we (in the Northern hemisphere) are a few days away from the winter solstice, when the earth is tilted farthest from the sun, giving us the year’s shortest day and longest night. The name “solstice” is derived from the Latin sol, meaning sun and sistere, meaning to stand still. During the solstice, the sun stands still. It virtually comes to a stop before reversing direction.
As we approach the winter solstice and the final days of Advent, may we still our hearts to see more clearly the Christ among us, that, we too might be caught up in the cosmic dance, radiant with hope and peace. Amen.