Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice

Fourth Sunday in Advent and the Shortest Day

It certainly feels like the "days are hastening on," heading so quickly into Christmas it's like we are on a runaway train. I have done little to prepare for the holiday since coming down sick during midweek. Well, at least my shopping was pretty much done, the rest can be done online. I can order groceries online as well. We have a lot of movies to watch at home. The house is fairly clean and with all this down time, everyone is catching up on laundry.

Homemade vegetable soup with plenty of garlic and red pepper
What I have "prepared" for Christmas dinner so far.
Gluten Free Christmas Pudding (individual serving size for $8) and
Gluten Free Panettone (might serve two to four for a small bite).
Both from Amazon.
Sunrise at 7:57 a.m. and sunset at 4:17 p.m. Only 8 hrs and 20 min of daylight today. Apparently, this is the longest night ever in the history of earth. But never fear, from here on out, the day length will increase by a few minutes each day.

In some ancient calendars, there are only summer and winter; spring and fall are just brief transitions between the two. Today may be the "first day of winter" by modern reckoning, but it was considered midwinter in former times.

Winter, 2008
Christina Rosetti's famous midwinter poem captures the feeling of this point in the season, when the days seem harsh and the dark hours endless.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

The rest of the poem can be read here: In the Bleak Midwinter.

Christina Rosetti, 5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894
Later, this poem was set to music. Here is my favorite performance of In the Bleak Midwinter, performed by Corrine May. I like the simple setting, a few folks gathered to listen in a tea shop, with the lights of busy traffic speeding behind her. Very mid-winter-ish feeling: cold outside and yet warm inside. Another beautiful performance is in the Doctor Who special "A Christmas Carol" by Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins, but that's a different kettle of fish.

Ha HA ha
Today's O Antiphon: O Oriens

O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Today's Mass readings are about King David wanting to build a house for the Lord, to move the tabernacle from a tent to a temple. The desire of the people was to keep God with them always. God promised to dwell with them and a temple was built, and later destroyed, and rebuilt and destroyed again. God kept his promise to dwell with us, not just the Hebrews but all people, through Mary, and her little son Jesus, in whom God became flesh.

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!

Keep watch! Christ is coming!
Prepare! Christmas is coming!
Rejoice! The Lord is near!
He is coming to dwell with us.

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