The Longest Night

The Longest Night December 22, 2008

The weather outside today is absolutely frigid. Today’s cold spell follows a few weeks of steely gray skies and torrential rain, leaving everybody in the city soggy and cold, even when we’re inside and dry. We rush to and from Metro stations and parked cars, heads ducked down, bags clutched tightly to our chests, solitary figures rushing toward any kind of shelter we can find.

darknessIt occurred to me the other day that the weather outside seems to reflect the state of so many hearts this holiday season-the heaviness-the alone-ness-the darkness-seem palpable wherever I turn.

It could be, of course, that I was not paying close enough attention in past years, but this year in particular we seem to be running through a whole lot of Kleenex in my office. Cheery Christmas songs are blaring louder than usual, striking an annoying dissonance with the melodies I’m hearing in quiet, tear-filled conversations-notes in a minor key, with raw pain the illustrations.

Some situations are heartbreaking losses. Some are ongoing pain magnified to oversized proportions. Some are just waves of sadness cresting on the horizons of lives mostly calm. Each life has pain of its own, but there no getting around the fact that this year there’s just a lot of sadness all around.

The gray skies and the torrential rain and all the tears are helping to remind me: it’s still Advent. We are still waiting for the light. And not just us-all creation longs for just one glimpse of a spark, a glimmer of hope way off in the distance . . . light that will not miraculously erase the pain but that might help us see a little more clearly through the tears.

The Longest Night

by Peter Mayer

Light a candle, sing a song

Say that the shadows shall not cross

Make an oblation out of all you’ve lost

In the longest night of the year

Gather friends and cast your hopes

Into the fire as it snows

And stare at God through the dark windows

Of the longest night of the year

A night that seems like a lifetime

If you’re waiting for the sun

So why not sing to the nighttime

And the burning stars up above?

Come with drums, bells and horns

Or come in silence, come forlorn

Come like a miner to the door

Of the longest night of the year

For deep in the stillness, deep in the cold

Deep in the darkness, a miner knows

That there is a diamond in the soul

Of the longest night of the year

Maybe peace hides in a storm

Maybe winter’s heart is warm

And maybe light itself is born

In the longest night

In the longest night of the year

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