2;30 in the morning on the winter solstice, December 21, 2017, the Ursid meteors should be out but I see none. The moon is getting ready to vacate the sky by Friday. The sliver of light is beautiful in the vault of the sky and I remember this is the longest night. It is 5 degrees a few days before Christmas. “Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone”. The country side is quiet and seems not quite real. Milton comes to mind – It was the Winter wilde, While the Heav’n-born-childe, All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies; Nature in aw to him Had doff’t her gawdy trim . . .
“Snow had fallen, snow on snow” and the path I drive is dry, but the excess snow kicks up and out and so to the sides of me a snow fog warps the view and masks the clear crystal view of world. The road ahead is set and the landscape white and high above, the stars. I am going to do a difficult and profound thing; pray with a family whose loved one has just died. The undertaker has not been yet called and soon he will make the same journey I make now. Will poetry be on his mind?
On this longest night I am going to talk of life and pray for the brightness of God’s light.
O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may, in our sadness at the death of our brother also rejoice at the new life he now lives with you. Cause the light of your Christ to shine in our hearts that we may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; for He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
And yet Hardy comes mind as well – “So savage winter catches, the breath of limber things, And what I love he snatches, And what I love not, brings”.
“Heaven cannot hold Him, nor the earth contain. Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes again”. Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead, but when He came to this earth He came to take on our form and carry our sins. The bleak winter gave way to the peace and mercy of God the Father and the gift He gave.
This is the Month, and this the happy morn
Wherein the Son of Heav’ns eternal King,
Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.
So on this dark road under the frozen stars I plan to recite to those to whom I travel the news of angels – unto you has been born a Savior, Christ the Lord. In the bleak mid winter life came to give you and yours – Life.