This new year began before January 1st. This new year began on December 20th – with the arrival of the winter solstice and the turning again of the earth toward the sun. That is when the light began creeping back into our days.
Perhaps this new year began with the arrival of the Covid vaccines and the thought that the end is not yet here but is in sight. That is when the light emerged at the end of the tunnel.
As we turn the calendar page to expose a new month in a new year and make promises and resolutions about how we ourselves will be new again, it is good to remember that each morning the light nudges gently over the horizon offering us a new day. The light emerges each and every day, and like it does in the natural world, the sun warms us and the light pulls out our best and truest selves. Each day we turn a calendar page on a fresh start.
The darkness holds gifts, and its work is important to the birth, life, death and new life cycle, but it is the light that pulls new life from the dark of garden beds and forest floors. As we know from December, light is celebrated in many faith traditions.
This new year begins with the dawn of a new day. It begins today. And it will begin again tomorrow. And the day after and the day after that. As a beloved friend says, “we see the radiance of light everlasting – its source is the lustre in the lantern of faith.”
Faith plays an important role in the lives of many. In the long cold days of January we do well to remember the wisdom of Natalie Sleeth, who wrote words to a popular contemporary hymn:
In the bulb there is a flower;
in the seed an apple tree;
in cocoons, a hidden promise:
butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter
there’s a spring that waits to be,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.
New life might be unrevealed until its season but faith knows the seasons never fail us. Fall pulls us into the ever darkening days and winter holds us there. The earth tilts away from the sun and darkness fills our days, and every year the earth tilts back and the sun reclaims control of sky. The light returns and with it comes the heat that slowly pulls the spring of new life from the earth. Tiny buds pop up on darkened branches, tender shoots push up through the soil of yesterday and the light paints the world in greens – then pinks, purples, reds, yellows – a rainbow of colours. New life matures into the fullness of beauty and prepares itself to give birth yet again: flowers and fruits and vegetables emerge – source of life and seeds of future life. The never ending cycle of life is dependent on the radiance of the light. Faith believes – faith knows – the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth.
Light from the sun, light from the Source, begins each new day. My friend, who was also a poet, expresses it magnificently:
out from the ebony edges of the night sky
the promise of the Maker flew softly down,
parting the shadows, warming the weary,
revealing the elegance
of a Luminous Day we see the radiance of the light everlasting its source is the lustre in the lantern of faith
This new year begins today. My hope is that the light offers you a Luminous Day today. And tomorrow. And beyond.
Rev LeAnn Blackert works with Michele Walker and Lesly Comrie in ministry with Wild Church in Kamloops, Sorrento and the Okanagan (wildchurchbc.org). She is grateful to her friend, the poet, who shared some of this column’s words with her. RIP Lanni Shupe. You held me up in so many ways. I will miss you.