Rising Sun

Puerto Morelas, Mexico

Week Four:  Tuesday

Many of us are familiar with the Advent hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, composed as we know it in 1861 but with roots sunk as far back as the Roman Catholic monastic life of the 8th century.  Not as many of us are familiar with the ancient O Antiphons, on which the hymn is based, used as a prelude to Christmas Eve.  Each of the seven antiphons (short refrains) that are prophetic names for the coming Messiah are sung on the nights between Dec. 17 and Dec. 23 at a service called Vespers.  They are paired with their relevant scripture verses and include the following names:   O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Rising Sun, O King of the Nations, O Emmanuel.  The one that speaks to me this winter day is O Rising Sun.

In Chapter 60 of the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, our guide announces to his people: 

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
   and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
   and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
   and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
   and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

The sun shall no longer be
   your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
   give light to you by night;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
   and your God will be your glory.
Your sun shall no more go down,
   or your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
   and your days of mourning shall be ended.

These verses are blinding in themselves, pouring forth the magnificence of the Light.  Can we even imagine how these words impacted a remnant of faithful people who had survived exile in a foreign land only to return to their own unrecognizable country?  Even more importantly, can we believe these blazing words for ourselves in our own current conditions?  Can we give these words any space this third day before Christmas; can we sit with them in the quiet, and let them kindle a fire in our hearts? Can we imagine the prophet speaking these words from God directly, personally, to each one of us?

We have been on a journey to find the Light in this Season of Darkness, but the truth is that the Light is already here.  It is shimmering and shining around us, too, but we often are blind to it, too busy or distracted to notice it, too caught up in the bad news to believe it, too jaded by life experiences to trust it.  But perhaps we might consider something else; perhaps it isn’t we who are waiting for the Light, but the Light who is waiting for us.  May we open our eyes and look beyond the fog and clouds to see the Light that is steadily burning for us.  May we claim the ancient promises and open our hearts to the miracles of the Rising Sun each and every day.  Many blessings of light to you.

Daily Light

Shouldn’t there be a ritual for the rising of the sun
each day
with candles lit and dancing
raising hands in welcome
lifting songs of praise?
Watch how the sky prepares itself
swathed in azure and violet
how the trees await, limbs lifted
naked and unashamed.
The hilltop holds its breath
as the first sliver of light appears
behind it and fog like the veils of a dancer
cloaks the water’s face
in preparation.
Shouldn’t there be a ritual for the rising of the sun
each day as it crests the horizon
in full glory, round and fat and fiery
a billion years of hot white light
a miracle
that blazes into our eyes
so that we turn away, as if it were
the face of God?
Now it sets the fog aglow
shimmering in pink, turns the dew
to flickering light, droplets of water
on the trees into iridescent
strings of pearls, calls forth
the redbirds in their own
scarlet robes to sing
aubades. And yet our heads
are buried, the commonplace
no longer wonder-full, and in our blind routines
we miss the revelation.
Shouldn’t there be a ritual each day
for the rising of the sun, for the promise
of new beginnings, for the grace given
for another chance? Shouldn’t we bow
before it and weep in humble gratitude
tremble at the power that grants
us faithful constancy, for the fact
that what could burn us instead
blesses?

© Rosemary McMahan

Author: rosemarymcmahan

Poet, writer, minister, wanderer, traveler on the way, Light-seeker ~ hoping others will join me on the journey of discovering who we are and were meant to be. You can reach me at 20rosepoet20@gmail.com or at my blog, Spirit-reflections.org.

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