This Christmas was no different from others, stars of joy against the quiet darkness of solitude and sorrow. My daughter far away and we here, my dad’s grief in the absence of my mother, for whom Christmas was all light and wonder. Those flashes of joy still light up the night, a thoughtful email, the laughter that just can’t stop when old friends fuss and then make up. There have been deaths, as certain as the birth we remember; one defined the age-old meaning of blessing—to die rich in years and descendants. The other two are tragic, totally unexpected, incomprehensible. All of it the night sky.
For the most part, I am the celebrant at the Wednesday evening services and I have come to deeply love those services, held in our small chapel, usually with very few people; it is more participatory and more flexible, much more reflective than other services we hold week in and week out. This picture was taken in the chapel on Christmas Eve. It captures the beauty of light and dark, simplicity and shocking color that receive us each week. These days, even when things feel rocky, unsure, so terribly confusing, with the darkness of winter gathered around our small congregation of night visitors, it is as if we are enfolded in wings of mighty and gentle strength.