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December 20, 2005
It is time to bid farewell to autumn and accept the arrival of the winter solstice signaling the long slow climb back to daylight. A sunset of a week ago was a startling send-off for fall, coloring Mt. Baker pink in the Cascade range and surrounding an almost full moon with purple in the eastern sky. Our farm, for a deceptive few minutes, appeared rosy and warm in crisp subfreezing weather. Then all became gray again, and within an hour we were shrouded in thick fog which iced the asphalt as darkness fell and it becomes a challenge to avoid the deep ditches along our county roads, with the white fog line being the critical marker preventing potential disaster.
The everpresent evening fog this time of year cloaks and smothers in the darkness, not unlike the respiratory viruses that have hit my household hard this week. We are feverish, coughing and snuffling, unable to see past the ends of our own swollen noses, as if the fog descended upon each of us in an impenetrable gray cloud. It is an unwelcome reminder of our vulnerability to microscopic organisms that can defeat us and lay us low in a matter of hours, just as a sudden fog can misguide us to the ditch. We are forced to stay put, at a time when there are dozens of responsibilities vying for attention in preparation for the holidays. Little gets accomplished other than the slow wait for healing and clarity--at some point the viral fog will dissipate and we can try climbing back into life and navigating without the fog lines as guides.
Ditches have been deep for some good folk the past two weeks, swallowing up their light and joy in the season. One family has lost their young dad to a sudden death, another family has lost their beloved grandfather to a relentless cancer. A respected teacher is suddenly stricken with an illness of unknown origin and she becomes the focus for a dozen or more doctors in the ICU who puzzle over the diagnosis, much less a potential treatment. There are students who struggle with overwhelming depression and every day must make a decision of whether to live or die. There are still so many homeless from epic disasters of hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Despite profound losses and pain, people courageously continue to climb their way out of the darkness to the light.
The day's transition to night is bittersweet: bright flames of color, yet heralding our uneasy future sleep. So the sun "settles" upon the earth and so must we.
Be at ease, put down the heavy burden and rest. We can celebrate, with chorus and gifts, the arrival of brilliant light in our lives. Instead of darkness overcoming us, our lives have become illuminated in glory and grace.
The Son has settled among us.
Evermore and evermore.