Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Days of Celebration Before Christmas

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  But from here on out, we get an extra minute of light each day.  It may not feel like much, but it will add up quickly.

Today we will have a holiday party at my new workplace.  Our Secret Santa identities will be revealed.  We will take time out of our busy days to have some cheer of the non-alcoholic kind.

It's been a week of celebrating other events too.  I have two friends who got good job news in the same week, so this week, we're celebrating.  One friend got my former job at the old school and one got a job directing a writing center at one of the campuses of the huge, local community college.  How wondrous is good job news in these dark days.

Today is the feast day of Saint Thomas, most famous for his doubting.  It's not so strange that he doubted, after all.  He saw Jesus die an agonizing death.  Why would he believe his fellow disciples with their strange tales of seeing Christ back from the dead?  He must have thought they'd finally lost their collective minds, which wouldn't have been improbable, given the events of the week.  But then he got to stretch out his hands, right into the wounds of Jesus.
Thomas should serve as a hopeful tale for all of us in these darkest days of the year (at least in the Northern Hemisphere).  It can be hard to maintain our faith, especially in the face of the spirit-cracking grief of disappointed hopes.  We may yearn for evidence that's supported by our five senses.  We may get that evidence.  Or we may get to have a mystical experience, where we experience something that transcends the world we've always known, a gateway to a different plane.

South Florida is a strange place to celebrate these winter holidays.  We've had record breaking heat these days, with daytime temps in the high 80's on some days.  But the sun sets earlier here than it did just a few months ago.  I drive home in the dusk, cheered by the twinkly lights.  I'll miss them in a few weeks, when it's still dark.  I'll try to remember that I'm gaining a bit more light each day.

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