The Day of Long Shadows, December 21, 2018


The shortest day of the year. In the summers, I like to take a walk in the evening and I distinctly remember my walk on June 21 and acknowledging with a tinge of depression that after this long, long day, the dark will start to come.

The history of how we keep time is fascinating and worth study. June 21 and December 21 mark the longest and shortest days, respectively. Depending on the calendar and the errors associated with it, the solstices have been marked on other days – such as June 24 and December 24. June 24 is the Feast of John the Baptist and we recall his proclamation: he must increase and I must decrease. In this case the dark begins to increase setting the stage for the Light of the World to pierce the armor of darkness with his birth.

Now on the shortest day of the year we remember St Thomas who, under the shadow of the evening, said that unless he sees and feels the wounds of Jesus Christ, he would not believe he was alive. The shadow of doubt on the day of the longest shadows.

Morning Prayer and Mass in the Church (St Thomas, Ember Day, Commemoration of Advent) and breakfast at Starbucks to write this blog. The office is closed to normal business on Fridays, but there is always work to be done. I made a visit to one of our homebound members, a 94-year-old man who is a perpetual delight. He is nearly deaf and I have to put my lips almost directly on his ear when I speak. That kind of closeness generates a certain kind of closeness. I love visiting him. No matter how his day has been or how he is feeling me, he greets me as if he has been waiting all year for my visit. Officially, I go to bring care to him but selfishly, I go to receive it.

I rested in the afternoon, piddling around the house and desk. I wrote Sunday’s homily after dinner and Evening Prayer (O Oriens) by the gas flame. The St Stephen’s Office readings are similar to the American Prayer Book readings for the Morning, but I hear them differently reading them on my own. The Antiphon is perfect for this day. Those who insist on starting the Antiphons on December 16, consider this connection:

“O Dayspring, Brightness of Light Everlasting, and Sun of Righteousness: Come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death.”

And now the shadows will start to recede.