One of my favorite days of the year is December 21, the winter solstice. It is the shortest day of the year at just 8 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds of daylight. After that, every day is just a tiny bit longer — marked in seconds — but the sun rises just a smidge earlier and sets just a wee bit later. It’s not immediately noticeable. December 22 has just three seconds more daylight. But by January 21 there are 9 hours, 33 minutes and 46 seconds of daylight, for an increase of almost a half hour. February 21 is up to almost two additional hours as we march our way to a whopping 15 hours and 22 minutes on June 20.
I love December 21 because it marks the beginning of the end of the short, dark days. While I admit I enjoy the coziness and how we as a family turn more inward this time of year, I also really miss waking up to sun on my face and birds chirping. I love to hear that racket outside the window while I lie there and listen to their sounds and try to sort out the different voices. I often wonder what they are saying to each other. “Hello! It’s another day!” “How was your sleep last night?” “Where are all the worms?” “Why is that guy sitting on my wire?”
To me the winter solstice brings tremendous hope and it is so fitting that it falls right about the same time as the birth of Jesus. Every day is a tiny increment closer to the light and Jesus is the light of the world. He came to help us out of our spiritual darkness. Without him, what would we be? If the days didn’t get lighter, if we just slunk along with 8:59:59 of light, what would we become? But here, we have this teensy little improvement every day until the gloriousness of fifteen full hours of daylight! Heaven!
In my own faith expedition there was darkness, and getting to the light took time. If June 20 is heaven I am certainly not there yet but it is good to be past December 21. God is brilliant in how he works things out. Just as spring slowly comes with longer days, tiny tree buds and flowers poking out of the ground, our relationship with his Son slowly grows into a beautiful day full of warm, gentle wind, lush flora, and a great canopy of a tree to shelter us.
So every year I am excited about the winter solstice. I take note as the days get longer and take heart that it will get warmer. Just as daylight grows from a little more than a third of each day, Jesus grows from a tiny baby to the Light of all (Luke 2:32). Just as the winter solstice passes mostly unnoticed amid the Christmas preparations, Jesus was born with minimal fanfare. The shepherds knew before the king did. And just as December 22 isn’t too much different than December 21, the vast majority of the world was unchanged immediately by his birth. The next morning people got up as always and did what they always did.
But we can notice and rejoice not just in the lengthening of the days but in the birth of Our Lord: the Light of the World, the Light and the Life, the Prince of Peace and the King of kings.
Read our other Advent 2017 articles.
Copyright 2017 Merridith Frediani