Light Breaks Through

Originally posted December 24, 2012/ edited December 23, 2014:

“O God, let me rise to the edges of time and open my life to your eternity;

Let me run to the edges of space and gaze into your immensity;

Let me climb through the barriers of sound and pass into your silence;

And then, in stillness and in silence let me adore You,

Who art Life-Light-Love

Without beginning and without end

Who has bound heaven to earth in the birth of a Child” 

-Sister Ruth “The Oxford Book of Prayer”

It happened 14 years ago, when I experienced the first Christmas without my mother alive.  And it has continued every year since.  I have grown weary of Christmas songs and have longed for and cherished Christmas hymns.  I think I noticed this for the first time when I heard “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and I just felt my stomach churn.  Anyone who has experienced the first Christmas after a loss can no doubt relate.  I wondered if I would ever get into the “spirit” again.  And then I started listening, really listening, to the lyrics in Christmas hymns.  I heard the theme that strikes me every year.  The theme of a tinge of the mournful, and acknowledgement of the heavy loads we carry  as humans, and the breaking through of light into a dark and weary world.

From It Came Upon a Midnight Clear:

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

From O Holy Night:
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, 
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth. 
Long lay the world in sin and error pining. 
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 
And a new favorite, which I feel compelled to copy in its entirety:
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day:
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
I have been pondering this, the weariness, the darkness, the toil.  This is the human condition.  And when we witness the dark despair of the loss of human life and dignity, like we seem to on almost a daily basis, there is an added burden that almost feels unbearable.  As we are bombarded with grief and tragedy, we experience a deep inner shudder, a holy grief in response to the unthinkable.
And we know there is more tragedy every day, we hear of hunger, pain, grief, violence, near and far.  This is our world.  This is the same world that received the hope of light then and cries out for it again now.  This is the world that needs a Savior, the weary world that finds the strength to rejoice at the mere thought of angels and Light and Life and Love breaking through the shell of darkness.
That is why I feel ultimately less than satisfied with the songs that pipe out of the malls and grocery stores this time of year.  I instead hold fast to the words that paint the picture of “wild and sweet” words that defy the dark with their “loud and deep” chords and that promise a light that breaks through, and the deepest  hope and peace to those who will hear and receive it.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

I am ready to sing back this song.  To try in my feeble way to bring some hope to a weary world, perhaps to help a soul feel it’s worth, and in whatever way I can, to take a small light, like the candles we will hold in tomorrow’s Christmas Eve service, and carry it forward during this coming year.


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Filed under Examining life, Grief and loss

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