Advent Night

"We are in a season of contradictions. Lights glitter from every structure; meanwhile, the days lengthen, and darkness begins to come earlier, stay later. A little shiver runs through our pre-electric-light primordial selves. The ancient human family viewed this time of year with trepidation. They lit fires for warmth and light, and wondered what the winter would bring. No longer concerned with a lack of food and shelter during the freezing winter months, we turn on the central heat, put on a fleece-lined parka and wait for the weather report.

Yet underneath our civilized response to the season, we may sense our human roots. We may look at the dark velvet dome of the night sky laced with stars, and wonder. It is a season that mysteriously brings together death and birth—death of the old season, the old year, the growth from last summer's garden; birth of the new light after December 21, the Winter Solstice, and birth of the community that is formed as we turn inward with the season. It is the season when Christianity celebrates the birth of Jesus, also called Immanuel or God-with-us." By The Rev. Mary C. Earle in "A Celtic Christmas: Celebrating the Sacred in All Creation."

Seen Above: Advent Starry Night #2 (2006), by Virginia Wieringa

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