I have a friend who marks the passing of the year by two things. Either "Christmas is coming,” or (when Christmas is over and we are sad,) “the days are getting longer.” It has become an unspoken tradition between us to send each other notes marking the coming and going of these seasons. Reminding each other of the good that has been, and the good that is yet to come.
Although the sun is putting up a fight, blazing fierce these last few weeks of summer, I know the long bright hours can't last forever. The turning will come. And with it the shadows.
And there is beauty in this too.
I listen to the words of a Christmas song today, thinking about the shadowed seasons of life.
The dark, cold days that seem to come out of nowhere.
And we are left with the shaking and the reaching.
For a covering. For protection. For light.
O come, O come Emmanuel…
And I don’t care that it’s August. I can feel the shadows coming.
I need to know.
Christmas is coming too.
So I let the song play again. Reaching for this covering.
Crouching low to hover near the glow of this light.
Oh come Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
I listen and remember.
I do not live in a Narnian wasteland.
Where it is, “always winter and never Christmas.”
I live in the realm of Emmanuel.
And drive away the shades of night,
And death’s dark shadow put to flight.
God. With. Us.
In the darkness that falls thick like fog,
Leaving us gasping for breath.
They can be heavy words. Crushing us under the weight of “should.”
How do you sing when you can barely breathe?
But we forget what worship means.
And sometimes it’s in the cold, dark places of grief we learn to see.
Emmanuel, shall come to thee.
The notes are quiet and unassuming.
The minor key speaks of misery... and of mystery.
Not your typical worship music, this song for the dark places.
But it is beautiful.
Not a fire to be manufactured,
But the gift of a flame to draw near, when we have none.
A place where the raw can come and be covered.
A reminder of what is, and what will be.
Like the text from my friend in the days that follow Christmas.
When the lights are taken down, and we are left waiting in the dark.
“Christmas is over… but the days are getting longer.”
We have seen glimpses of the light… but there is more.
So much more to come.
Just a little longer.
Soon we’ll be shielding our eyes.
Our body and soul dripping it’s so bright.
So hang on, friend.
The Light is here.
The Light will come.
He is here.
He will come.
"And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light,” Revelation 22:5.