Last night was the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. It was the third anniversary of the death of a good friend, a casualty to despair. Far into the night I found myself leaping to the phone to answer the call of a dear friend whose marriage collapsed a year ago, leaving him with a broken heart and many questions.
L had a miscarriage in September, and is still suffering from occasional bleeding and pain. She's the third of my friends to lose a child. It is the first Christmas since the death of my grandfather- a good man whose amazing mind and stories were stolen by Alzheimer's. B's father is no longer speaking to her....his extreme cruelty to her mother resulted in B. making the phone call to the police that ended in a restraining order against him.
The darkness is strong. I find myself thinking of the shepherds at the Nativity. The night sky is broken by angelic proclamation and song. "A Savior has been born. Peace on earth, good will towards men." The shepherds ran to the stable to worship. They saw the Messiah. . . then had to go back to watching sheep. Nothing changes. It takes thirty years for this baby to grow up. He becomes a radical preacher, a homeless vagabond. Just as it looks like he could change the world, the authorities nab him and nail him to a cross to shut him up. Where were the shepherds?
Here we are now, two thousand years later. Congo and Zimbabwe look like they're going up in flames. Somalia....Darfur....antibiotic resistant TB...factories in China polluting the air...and the thousand small tragedies that we encounter every day. Why hasn't it changed yet?
Yesterday, I picked up The Irrational Season for a few moments. L'engle writes the first few pages out of the darkness that surrounds Advent. She reminds me that we are waiting for the Eschaton, that Advent's fufillment is still to come. The solstice has passed, the days are lengthening. Tonight's darkness will be a little less.