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asolsticeThe workings of the universe are often confusing for some non-science minds like mine. For example, we are approaching the Winter Solstice, the time of the shortest day and longest night in the northern hemisphere (and the opposite, of course, in the south). Sometimes it is the 21st of December, sometimes the 22nd. I just read that the solstice begins tonight for my time zone at 11:48PM – which is 4:48AM GMT (Universal Time). It’s all about the tilt of the earth’s axis, you see, and the angle and length of the sun’s rays hitting the earth. The  confusion comes because there are reports as well of the fact that the solstice doesn’t signal the day of the latest sunrise and earliest sunset because “solar time” – measured by the spin of the earth – isn’t exactly the same as clock time, which always measures a day as exactly 24 hours.

That’s enough science for me – or too much, really – at this early hour. All I need to know is that at this very moment (7:16AM EST) the sky outside my window is turning pink on the eastern horizon and I can expect (because the pink complements beautifully the blue that is also appearing, heralding a clear day) that the sun will burst forth in radiance if I sit here long enough to wait for it. Sunrise is a daily miracle, whether or not it is visible given the weather conditions of the day. It always happens and it is a wonderful metaphor of birth, splendid in its beauty and hope-filled in its consistency.

The O Antiphon for today reflects the nearness of the Messiah and the longing soon to be fulfilled. If you live in a place where the dawn has yet to “spring forth” and you have the leisure to do so, watch for it. Be aware of the coming of the light and note the moment when the sun appears, giving thanks for another day. If tomorrow is the arrival of the solstice in your time zone, like in mine, spend this day in conscious waiting, in gratitude for what will surely come.

O Rising Dawn, Radiance of the Light eternal and the Sun of Justice, come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

O Dayspring, you bring God’s light into our darkness. You are the rising sun, the morning star that brightens lives and lifts spirits. Come, blaze in us and cast out all fear.