Today is the winter solstice when darkness exceeds daylight by four hours here in the Sonoran Desert [sunrise at 7:24 AM, sunset at 5:24 PM].

The long nights have never bothered me, even 50 years ago when I lived in Eagle River, Alaska when daylight was just short of 5 ½ hours on the winter solstice day.

The astronomy of the solstice fascinates me.  In simplest terms, winter solstice occurs when the Earth’s axial tilt – about 23.5 degrees – is farthest from the sun, marking the shortest day and longest night, signaling the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere

Darkness takes many forms.  I consider one of the most effective paragraphs I’ve penned in any of the books I’ve authored comes from The Hamsa [2010] when the protagonist, Bronisław Czech meets the mysterious Father Michael in Rome

“I tell you this,” [Father Michael] repeats, “You and your compatriots will face great pain, and you will see things no man should see, things that will drag you to the limit of your spiritual, mental, and physical endurance.  You will gaze into the heart of darkness, and you will not like what you see.”  I do not understand him, but his rhetoric hypnotizes me.  “They can take everything you own, Bronisław, everything you hold dear, but they cannot take your dignity unless you let them.  There is a light in the heart of darkness.”

The Hamsa by E.S. Kraay

THERE IS A LIGHT IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS

2023 was a challenging year for me, my family, and many friends.  More than once, I gazed into the heart of darkness.  Several friends experienced the same phenomenon, but each of us has emerged stronger from the experience with help from family and friends.

Long a fan of Stephen Schwartz’s 1973 musical “Godspell,” I was delighted when my spiritual mentor Father Paul would reference the uplifting tune “You Are the Light of the World” from the pulpit in Picture Rocks during his time as Director of the Redemptorist Renewal Center.

You Are the Light of the World

You are the light of the world!
You are the light of the world!
But if that light is under a bushel,
( brrr ) It’s lost something kind of crucial.

You’ve got to stay bright to be the light of the world!

You are the salt of the earth!
You are the salt of the earth!
But if that salt has lost its flavor
It ain’t got much in its favor.

You can’t have that fault and be the salt of the earth!

So let your light so shine before men
Let your light so shine!
So that they might know some kindness again,
We all need help to feel fine! (Let’s have some wine!)

You are the city of God!
You are the city of God!
But if that city’s on a hill,
It’s kind of hard to hide it well.

You’ve got to stay pretty in the city of God!

So let your light so shine before men
Let your light so shine!
So that they might know some kindness again,
We all need help to feel fine! (Let’s have some wine!)

You are the light of the world!
You are the light of the world!
But the tallest candlestick,
Ain’t much good without a wick!

You’ve got to live right to be the light of the world!

As we celebrate Christmas in three days, I encourage you to focus on the light Jesus brought to the world and to consider your obligation to be a part of that light that continues to shine thousands of years later.

YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Join the Conversation

2 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. I thought about Matthew 4:15,16: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” When you mentioned Eagle River, that brought back memories also. When I was stationed at Webb AFB in the early 70’s in Big Spring, TX, I studied the Bible with a young engineer living in Midland, TX named Pat McGuire. Later, Pat began to work with BP. He and his wife, Sylvia, lived in Eagle River. My wife and daughter joined Sylvia and her daughter with a team of people from their church in Eagle River to host a prayer conference for Christian missionaries in Chiang Mai, Thailand. After the conference, the group took 200 Bibles to the underground church near Kuin Ming in southern China. This happened about 25 years ago.