Thanks to Susie (again) for these pictures ~ beautiful
The longest night
noun: winter solstice; plural noun: winter solstices
The solstice marks the onset of winter, at the time of the shortest day, about December 22 in the northern hemisphere and June 21 in the southern hemisphere.
Our friend Gay loved the Winter Solstice. She circled it with a big heart each year on her calendar. For her this day spoke most honestly to her places of hardship and pain. Over her life she’d lost a son and a grandson, had experienced damaged and broken relationships, and had lived in and through many long, long nights. And perhaps that’s why the Solstice held her heart so well.
Years and years ago on this night she gathered friends in a barn, lit candles, and sang all the carols they knew. They sang until they couldn’t sing anymore. On this holy-day Gay wanted her friends close and the candles burning brightly. She knew deep in her bones that tomorrow would come and it would bring more light with it. For this was the darkest night, the longest of the year. Sharing it reminded her that she wasn’t alone. She knew that others carried their own burdens and that together they could light more candles and not curse the (“darn”) darkness. This became an annual event for many of us, a tradition year after year. Many would gather in that little barn, sitting on bales of hay, praying prayers, singing carols and lighting as many candles as we could. And I can still hear the melody and our words echoing down the years:
How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.
Breath prayer: “light” “one candle”
Prayer: Holy God, teach us to pray. Teach us to light a candle or two and to sing until we’ve sung every verse we know. Even on this shortest day, gather us to you, we pray. Amen.
Working as a Hospice Chaplain, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.