winter solstice eclipse Dec 21, 2010

I live in the “Sunshine State.” This is no mere tourist slogan, I assure you. This is the truth. And, after ten years in Chicago, I was utterly unprepared for it.

Do you know what it is to long for darkness?

Recently, our skies were heavy and dark for four days. This is unheard of here. Oh, we get plenty of rain: towering, fierce clouds and thunder to rattle your bones, but it rarely lasts long. But this was a nor’easter. For four days it rained, and the leaden clouds never dispersed. Until … they did. The sun came back, the blue sky that is our constant Florida refrain finally returned, and I could have wept. I wanted those clouds back.

Foolish? Perhaps. But here is what I love about darkness: it is the fitting backdrop to hot tea, hot coffee, and hot cocoa (I do like my drinks hot). It is “cozy” weather, as my kids say. Poor things. Here, in Florida, when a summer thunderstorm begins they out-shout the thunder: “Let’s get cozy!” We burrow beneath pillows and blankets on the sofa, but we’re lucky if the sun isn’t shining again by the time we open our storybook.

They’ve inherited my darkness-loving gene, I suppose. Or maybe it comes by birth. I may have been raised in Texas, but I was born in Rapid City, South Dakota, and my children were born into Chicago’s urban darkness, where winter means clouds and tall buildings cast deep shadows on even the brightest days.

In addition to hot drinks and storybooks read by the light of a flashlight, we love dinner by candlelight, Christmas books by the twinkling light of the tree, moonlight on snow (oh, how I miss this, though moonlight on ocean waves is lovely, too). In other words, we love the little lights, like fireflies on a summer evening. Like boats at night on Lake Michigan or the St. Johns River. Like warm lamplight on the pages of a book.

We love the light that shows up best against a backdrop of darkness.

When the light of the world came to us, our world was very dark. And His light was small. Cradle-sized. Today, his face may look “like the sun shining in all its brilliance,” but when he was born to us, it was with a delicate, fragile light (Revelation 1:16).

His birth was like the moon.

His return will be like the sun.


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