As the days grow shorter and the darkness comes earlier, the twilight of the year approaches. I still remember the warm days of autumn as if they were yesterday, sunlight shading from gold to copper as the day slowly matured into evening. A series of heavy rains put an end to this, downing the remaining leaves and ushering in the wind and cold, which can seem so raw when you’re not used to it. I search for my down jacket, a wool hat, and two gloves that still match, and I’m thinking: it’s not summer anymore!
The joys of winter are the inverse of summer’s. Before was the sweet breath of morning dew. Now, the cold air rushes to meet me when I open the front door, inviting me to do the same as I greet the world. Before, the harvest moon hung low in the evening sky. Now it’s the stars that are so close, suspended in a silence so tangible that you can hear their music in moments of clarity and awe. Before, the days were long. Now, both dusk and dawn unfold in our waking hours. We witness the ongoing creation of day and night, each one emerging and disappearing into the other. We see time happening.
Years ago, travelling in Switzerland in the wintertime, I stopped in St. Gallen to see the famous cathedral there. The weather wasn’t cold that day, but it was raw; the town square was covered in a blanket of wet snow. Nothing moved that I could see as the daylight waned in the late afternoon, daytime colors receding into shades of grey. Embracing this invitation to solitude, I first passed through a place of loneliness, thinking, I’m wet and cold, and nobody knows me here.
A single ray of light pierces this scene. Across the square, a candle in a tavern window sends its flickering dance of color through red, rippled glass. It changes everything.
To the tired traveler the candle sends a signal of safety, warmth and companionship. That warmth finds its way into the corners of my soul. I start to imagine the place from which the light comes.
During Advent, we enter the twilight time together. We come to that place where day and night meet and intermingle, a place for prayer and joyous anticipation. In the silence we hear music. In the gentle darkness we await the coming of the light – a light that we have already seen, if only from a great distance – a light that shines through us.
Rev Bruce C Taylor