Saturday,  Advent Week 1: Sacred Reading

The Psalms of Advent, December 2, 2022

You are invited to light a candle and join me on this journey of reflecting on the psalms chosen for the Season of Advent, most recently Psalm 72, found here:  A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I am not a scholar of the psalms.  I simply chose them as something to explore in this season of expectation and waiting.  I appreciated very much what a fellow blogger posted:  “I actually love that you are not a scholar of the Psalms. The vast majority of us are not. Your thoughts and reflections remind me that the Psalms are for me, just ordinary, not scholarly me” (Visit her blog on spirituality:  Living on Life’s Labyrinth).   Yes, the psalms are exactly for “ordinary” us.

The Book of Psalms comes in all shades of color:  the red of anger, the black of despair, the purple of royalty, the blue of joy, the gray of seeking, the gold of thanksgiving.  No emotion is “inappropriate” for this book of holy poetic scripture.  No emotion is too bad to lift before God. Psalms speaks to the totality of human emotions, those we label both good and bad, that make us who we are:  ordinary people.

My approach to these psalms has been to use the ancient spiritual practice of “lectio divina,” which means “sacred reading.”  Instead of reading a piece of text for information, lectio divina (which is NOT bible study) invites us to read it for transformation, which is quite a significant difference.  We don’t rush through it.  Information feeds the head; transformation touches the heart.  The purpose of lectio is to allow time for a word or phrase to catch our attention or touch a deep part of us and so become a guide and/or an invitation as we walk our journeys. Lectio is similar to hearing that still, small voice of God, Being, Universe whisper personally to us.

So, I do not attempt to explain what the psalms are about or figure out who wrote them.  I do not research much, if anything, about each individual psalm other than what the footnotes may offer me.  What I do, instead, is to respect each psalm as the ancient piece of wisdom literature that it is.  I listen to the voice of the writer for the ancient, and yet still universal, wisdom that is shared.  I read slowly, paying attention to each word until a word or phrase tugs me back, invites me in.  Then, I meditate on it, trying (not always succeeding) to open my heart to the Light and to Love and to what the Spirit may be saying or how the Spirit may be nudging.

All of this is to say that what I hear, you may not hear. (Please see my last couple of posts as examples.)  How I interpret the message may be completely different from your interpretation.  I am neither right nor wrong, and neither are you.  My hope is that when I share my ponderings, I do so universally, in a way that speaks to ordinary people, like me, no matter who they are, who they worship, or where they are on their spiritual journeys.  In this season where so many spiritual traditions are seeking the Light, I pray that these psalms are flickers along the way.

Blessings ~ Rosemary

How the Psalms Came to Be

Imagine dozens, hundreds,
thousands, no, millions of people
all people
different people
ordinary people
standing under the sky
cobalt and immense above
In their hands,
all their hands,
see birds of color:
the hot red of fiery anger
the still blue of deep joy.
the heavy black of aching grief
the harvest gold of sincere gratitude
the pale sage of silent solitude
the ash gray of ceaseless longing.
Myriads and multitudes
of colored birds
are tethered to wrists,
birds nodding, fluttering
sleeping, restless
contained, straining
when a whisper
of Spirit, a word on a wind,
invites release
and the hundreds
and thousands and millions
of tethered birds, (mine, too,
and yours)
are cut loose to fling their colors
up into the open and immense sky
writing a rainbow above the people
while a voice blesses from the heavens,
“I receive it all.”

(c) Rosemary McMahan

Picture credit: Rosemary McMahan

Thursday, Advent Week 1: Righteousness

The Psalms of Advent, Dec. 1, 2022

Today, you are invited to light a candle with me as we move to the third Psalm of Advent, Psalm 72, and reflect on verses 1-7, and 18-19. The entire psalm can be found here: Listen for a repetition in these verses, 1-3, and verse 7, being aware that this psalm is an ancient prayer for a new monarch:

Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness
and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness. . . .
In his days may righteousness flourish
and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

Though justice is repeated twice, the word that resonates with me is righteousness, repeated four times.  The Hebrew word is synonymous with honesty, justice, righteous acts, righteous deeds, and vindication.  This psalm, possibly prayed publicly when King Solomon ascended the throne of Israel (970 to 931 BCE) after his father, King David’s, death, became a prayer for all future monarchs of Israel. 

The Franciscan priest, theologian, and contemplative author, Father Richard Rohr, writes in his book, The Universal Christ, “There is no such thing as a nonpolitical Christianity.”* How I know that to be true.  I have walked the tightrope in preaching, discovering how quoting the scriptural words of God and Jesus Christ in a sermon has led to the accusation of being “political” or of “meddling.” I will save further discussion of Rohr’s statement for another time, other than to say that this particular Advent psalm, 72, is a political prayer.  This psalm doesn’t claim that “might makes right” but that “right makes might.” It is a prayer for a king, a president, a senator, a messiah, a prime minister, to practice righteousness, for the welfare of all the people, including the poor, and to establish peace, “until the moon is no more.” When did any of us last hear such a prayer for any leader? Or even pray one?

Righteousness is the quality of being morally correct and justifiable.  It is an attribute of kingship found in Middle Eastern religions and Abrahamic traditions, including  Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. A righteous person implies that the person has been judged as leading a life that is pleasing to God.  Leading a life that is pleasing to God.  Isn’t that an attribute we long for in our leaders, no matter what name we use for God?  I wonder why so many of us, then, so easily dismiss it.

I admit that I am not very familiar with this psalm, nor am I a scholar of the psalms.  But in this Advent Season of 2022, in a world affected by unjust wars and political division where so many leaders lack any semblance of righteousness, where the poor the world over remain poor, where actions toward peace and justice seem less important than who wins what, this psalm calls me to pray for all leaders, everywhere, to be the kind of king prayed for in this psalm.  It also reminds me to be careful about what leaders I follow and who I support. If they are not “righteous,” then how faithfully am I living?

Blessings ~ Rosemary

*Rohr, Richard.  The Universal Christ, Convergent Books, 2019

Photo credit: Pixabay

Wednesday, Advent 1: Humility

The Psalms of Advent

You are invited to light a candle and join me in our final reflection on this particular Psalm of Advent, Psalm 124.  Please sit with these verses:

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
—let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive . . .
(Verses 1-3, New Revised Standard Version)

You may find the rest of the psalm here:

This psalm ends with an affirmation of the grace of the Holy One:  “Our help is in the name of the Lord; who made heaven and earth”  (Verse 8).  My understanding of grace is that it is a gift given with no strings attached, given to those who have done nothing to earn it, and this author fully acknowledges that gift. 

As I reflected, again, on this psalm that has become more of a friend than a stranger to me over these past few days, the word that came to me is not a word found in the psalm and yet is a word that glimmered over these verses:  humility.  Here we find Jewish pilgrims on their way to the temple in Jerusalem, and while they ascend the temple steps, they sing this psalm that admits it is God, Yahweh, not themselves, who has saved them from danger.  If their God had not been on their side, repeated twice, they realize they would have found themselves in grave peril.

Here, in this psalm, notice that bragging is absent.  Here, in these ancient lines, boasting is unfathomable.  Here, in this song of worship, arrogance has no place.  The Jewish people have survived a crisis not because of their own efforts, and so the Holy One is given the credit where credit is due.  Yet, how often in our modern times do we hear politicians, bosses, religious leaders, celebrities, and perhaps even family and friends (or maybe ourselves) speak of what they have accomplished, all on their own?  In the United States, our politicians and political parties vie with one another over who has done the most, who has claimed the victory and sealed the deal, all by themselves, conveniently forgetting the American motto, “In GOD we trust.”   Our business people and multibillionaires brag about making things better, bigger, just by the touch of their hands.  “My rights” means I don’t need to consider anyone else. Psalm 124 will have none of that boasting or self-reliance, instead proclaiming that help comes from the Holy One.

Humility is tough.  We want to be seen, affirmed, and admired for our gifts, skills, accomplishments, looks, etc, etc.   We want to be appreciated.  We especially want to be paid, and paid well. And then here comes humility, reminding us that someone else, human and/or divine, has something to do with where and who we are.  Here comes humility, reminding us about that log in our own eye instead of worrying about the speck in another’s. Here comes humility, reminding us that there will always be someone better at what we do than us and still encouraging us to offer our gifts and talents anyway, not just for our good, but for the greater good. 

The root word for humility is humus, which means dirt or earth.  Humility is not about self-abasement or shame but is, instead, about being grounded enough to recognize both our blessings and gifts and our limitations and challenges.  Humility is a realization that, yes, we do need each other, and yes, we do need the Holy.

For those of us who are Christians, the prime example of humility is the Divine One who chose to lower itself to become a Human, and not any human, but a poor, blue-collar male human with no social standing or status and who never achieved a palace, a White House, a Kremlin, prestige, wealth, or rave reviews for all his efforts.  Yet in this lowering of self, the Divine-human was able to serve, teach, minister, pray, and demonstrate a kind of love that no one else could have imagined, an all-inclusive love, a grace that is extended to all people, a humility grounded in love.

I wonder, in this dark season, where I might surrender to a humbler spirit, and so I give thanks for the messages whispered from Psalm 124.    Blessings ~ Rosemary

A Psalm of Humility
after Psalm 124

If it had not been for the Spirit
who gives me courage
—let me say it—
if it had not been for the Spirit
who gives me words
when my own doubts of relevance
my own reservations of self
my own questions
about my worth
nearly drown me or stop me,
then I would not create,
I would not take the risk
to open my heart.

If it had not been for
—let me say it—
who encourage me
support me and remind me
that whatever gift I have
seeks to be used
for the revelation of Beauty
and Love,
for the honor
of the Holy One
here and now,
I would slink away
to ever bare my soul.

How grateful I am to that Spirit
and to each person, whoever
she is, whatever he believes,
who stumbled upon
this page
for sitting here with me,
for catching the bit
of dandelion fluff I blew
from these words
into the Universe
at the Spirit’s nudging,
and for listening with me
to whatever sacred message
these wonderings might reveal.

©  Rosemary McMahan

Photo credit:  Rosemary McMahan

Tuesday, Advent 1:  Waiting and Watching

The Psalms of Advent, November 29, 2022

An interesting, and perhaps intentional, aspect about the Psalms of Advent is that there are really only seven of them appointed for this season of preparation.  When I first considered this blog, I assumed there would be a different psalm every day, but not so, according to the listing in the Revised Common Lectionary.  Each psalm is given three to four days, instead of leading to a new one for a new day.  I can’t say for sure what the reasoning is behind that decision, but I will speculate that it illustrates two things about Advent preparation: waiting and anticipation.

Waiting is what the majority of us do not like to do.  Instant gratification is our siren call.  We love drive-through anything and dinners delivered right to our door.  Asking us to wait is an insult to our well-beloved and hoarded time.  Waiting can be tiring.  We can only tread water for so long.  Yet waiting is also a spiritual discipline, no matter what faith we follow.  When we wait, we realize that everything isn’t about us and that there truly is little over which we have control, other than how we wait.  We can wait with patience and trust or with anger and frustration. Waiting with each psalm intentionally slows us down and gives us the time to attend to the words, to the poetry, to the imagery.  Waiting keeps us still for a time, and in that stillness we can listen.

What else happens when we wait?  We anticipate the outcome of our waiting.  Many times, we wait for something good to happen and that anticipation feels exciting; other times, we wait with a sense of foreboding–for a test result, a goodbye, a change of well-planned dreams, a releasing.  For the authors of the Book of Psalms, anticipation was almost a constant in their journey of what would come next.  A new king?  Another oppressor?  Land of their own?  A messiah? And so they waited, sometimes faithfully, and sometimes not, just like the rest of us.

In this season of darkness and shadows, what are we waiting for and what are we anticipating?  Can we observe how we are waiting?  The psalmist tell us “To be still and know that God” is God (Psalm 46:10).  Can we trust that God is in the waiting, in the watching, in the anticipation with us?  These are the questions I ponder this season, and you are invited to ponder with me or share your own.  I would honor hearing them.

Blessings ~ Rosemary

Monday, Advent 1: Escape

The Psalms of Advent, Nov. 28, 2022

Please light a candle if you wish and join me in today’s meditation on the psalms designated for the four weeks of the Advent Season.  How do I select these psalms?  I am not pulling them out of the air, I promise.  They are found in a formalized daily listing of biblical scripture, called The Revised Common Lectionary (1993), that includes readings from the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms, the Gospels, and the letters that compose the New Testament.  These passages were selected in conjunction with Catholic and various Protestant scholars across the States and Canada in hope of creating a sense of unity among denominations that choose to “follow the lectionary,” especially for Sunday teaching, preaching, and worship. It is not a haphazard listing but one made with theological thoughtfulness.

The psalms of Advent were chosen because they reveal something about the themes of Advent: waiting, anticipation, hope, peace, pilgrimage, darkness, and light. The psalm/song/poem selected for the first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the first week of Advent is Psalm 124:, giving the reader/worshipper/seeker ample time to sit with this song.  Other psalms will also be repeated. 

Like our psalm from Sunday, this song was also sung on the journey to Jerusalem and recited in worship.  Pilgrimages are an important part of the Book of Psalms, perhaps because pilgrimages are universal.  In some way or another, we are all on journey to something or to someone in our lives.  Sometimes we find ourselves deep in the valley and other times we’ve made it to a mountaintop.  In this psalm, the author has experienced both—a time of great fear, and a time of redemption:

Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Verses 6-8, Common English Bible)

The word that catches me in this psalm is escaped, used twice. When a psalmist repeats anything, he does so for emphasis. Here, his people were in trouble, almost “torn” by the enemy’s teeth. Perhaps an army was about to invade when the “Maker of heaven and earth” intervened, and the psalmist gives great praise.

Escape. As I sat with the word, my first inclination was to ponder how we might escape from all that troubles us, and there certainly is a vast amount of trouble: divisive politics, gun violence, unfounded conspiracy theories and lies, and growing antisemitism and prejudice, all in the U.S. alone. Within my own private life, I have traits and habits I would prefer to flee from or ignore. We all do. No one enjoys being “snared” by what is unpleasant, frightful, upsetting, or painful.

Then I thought about God intervening in the life of all humanity. Instead of escaping divisive politics, an occupied country, lies, slander, and manipulation, injustice, sickness, and poverty, God entered into it. For Christians, God did so through Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, “God-with-us.” For those of other faiths, God did so through various prophets. God enters humanity through nature, relationships, love, and Spirit. God enters; God does not escape.

No matter how far along the spiritual journey we find ourselves, we sometimes have trouble admitting that we need help, particularly, at times, God’s help. Needing God’s help makes us feel less in charge. “God helps those who help themselves,” we are told, so we take it upon ourselves to save ourselves. But that little motto is nowhere to be found in Scripture and is, according to Psalm 124, patently false. God helps those who cannot help themselves; God is for us, not against us. What is, is where God is. This psalm and the journey of Advent toward a birthday entrance are both about the promise of God’s presence. As long as I remember that, I don’t need to plan my escape.
Blessings ~ Rosemary

Photo credit: Pixabay

Sunday, Advent 1: Peace

The Psalms of Advent

I invite you to light a candle and join me on this first Sunday of Advent, as we wait with the psalms and listen for a word to guide us during this dark season of winter.  We begin with the psalm appointed for today, Psalm 122, described as a “pilgrimage song,” appropriate for this winter journey. You can find the entire psalm here: Another word may very well speak to you, but the one that calls to me is repeated three times: peace.

Pray that Jerusalem has peace:
Let those who love you have rest.
Let there be peace on your walls;
let there be rest on your fortifications.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I say, “Peace be with you, Jerusalem.”
(Verses 6-8, Common English Bible)

The pilgrims singing this song are on their way to Jerusalem, a city where justice prevails on the throne of King David.  Their pilgrimage replicates our own as we journey this life, sometimes knowing exactly where we are going, with determination and joy, and sometimes not, confused and lost.  Yet even within this sacred city, the psalmist makes a cry for peace.  Considering the never-ending turmoil in the Middle East, this psalm could have been written today as well as thousands of years ago: the plea for peace, both within and without.

Peace.  If ever our world needed peace, it is now.  If ever our own lives needed peace in these confusing and turbulent times, it is now.  Someone once said that peace isn’t the absence of worry or conflict but the ability to stay centered within it.  That is quite an ability, keeping other people’s choices and voices from disrupting our own grounding in Love.

What would it take for you, and me, to stay centered within the whirlwinds of our private lives and the life of this world?  I have developed an unhelpful habit of reaching for my phone first thing in the morning and checking the news.  Nothing like seeking peace when reading about gun violence, the war in Ukraine, and politics in America a I start my day!  This Advent Season, I am putting the phone aside and instead sitting in quiet where, in the inmost chambers of my heart, I envision God’s light shining in and on all the areas of my life and the world’s that need peace.  Practicing peace is both a grounding, a guide, and a gift.  How will you practice it?  I would like to know. Peace be with you.  ~  Rosemary


You can’t stay there forever, you know,
in that fern glade hidden in the woods
or sitting on the bench under the
golden ginkgo tree where the leaves
spread a silent blanket before you
and you remember, as a child,
the innocence of burying yourself
in them.
You can’t keep to the rippling mountain stream
cascading over velvety moss-covered rocks
white foam spraying thickets
of budding rhododendron
(though you wish you could)
nor can you hide forever on the empty
hilltop with the sun
caressing your face
as spring’s first breath
whispers into your hair.
Oh yes, you would like to stay
because here you are at peace
you are peace
and it’s yours, yours, yours.
But you have a way to go,
a gift to give,
a presence to share.
Now grounded, inhale the ginkgo
the fern the stream the breeze.
Drop them like anchors
into your soul
and go breathe them upon
this heartbroken and turbulent
before returning to find your center

(c) Rosemary McMahan

Photo credit: Rosemary McMahan

The Psalms of Advent

“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms . . .”  George Santayana

The Book of Psalms in the Old Testament of the Bible is a collection of ancient Hebrew poem-songs (written between 3500 and 2500 years ago) that demonstrates the truth of the philosopher Santayana’s description about the world.  Here we find poems that celebrate beauty, nature, creativity, forgiveness, and love and that also include poems that wrestle with lament, grief, confusion, death, hurt, fear, and anger.  No emotion is too big or two small, no feeling too positive or “negative,” for the authors of this book who chose to be honest before Yahweh/God/Allah or whatever word it is we use for the Holy One.  The psalms are a human encounter with the Divine.

During the Season of Advent, a Christian tradition that sets aside the four weeks before December 25 as a time for introspection, preparation, and stillness, and during this “season of light in the darkness” when Hanukkah and Diwali are also observed, the daily scripture readings include a psalm.  Reflecting on these poems or songs about the human heart and its connection with God is a way to keep us rooted in the universal Reality of Love, a love that does not change while the world around us seems to do so every second.  Each psalm, in its own way, becomes a flicker of light and hope in a dark world. Each psalm has a whispered message for us.

Advent is a journey toward the celebration of Love, of welcoming “God-with us” and honoring the “God-in-us,” each one of us.  No matter how you experience the presence of God or a Higher Being, I invite you to join me in reflecting on one word a day from an Advent psalm. 

Blessings ~ Rosemary

Photo credit:  Pixabay

O Antiphons ~ Emmanuel

December 23, 2021

O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the one whom the peoples await and their Savior. O come and save us, Lord, our God.

Two days before Christmas, in this Advent season of waiting and longing, the seventh, and final, name for the Christ (or Light, or Love, if you prefer) proclaimed in the ancient prayer-song of the O Antiphons is found in Isaiah 7:14:   Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

Emmanuel:  “God with us.”  Of the four stories of the Christ, the good news of the gospels, Matthew and Luke are the two evangelists that include the birth story, and their telling is quite different from each other.  In Matthew’s narrative, “God with us” comes in the midst of a Roman occupation with an unwanted male infant that King Herod tries to kill and so must be hidden.  “God with us” occurs in dreams that lead Joseph to take his family to Egypt and wisemen to disobey Herod’s orders and “go another way.”  Jesus, the Christ, becomes “God with us” as the new Moses who will lead God’s people not out of Egypt but out of themselves and into the Light.

For Luke, “God with us” appears to the least likely—to an old woman and a teenaged girl, second class citizens, and to shepherds, third class citizens, made unclean by Jewish standards because of their care of dirty animals.  “God with us” is the one who walks among the least of us, the poor and powerless, and surprises the faithful and long-waiting, Simeon and Anna.  “God with us” meets us exactly where we are, as we are, with love and compassion, mercy and longing.  “God with us” means we are never again alone.

Prayer:  O Emmanuel, as the day of your birth draws close, help us to be still enough to receive you.  Whenever we see a candle burn, a light on a tree sparkle, outside decorations glow, let us take those sights as reminders of your Light and Love upon us and upon everyone.  Guide us out of ourselves and toward you, and help us to be Light-bearers to those who live in darkness, those who need to know both peace and joy. You are with us and within us, and so we can rejoice, even now.  May it be so.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

If you would like to listen to this prayer-song, here is a link to the artist Lauren Daigle’s version:

Blessings of joy and peace to you.  ~  Rosemary

Photo credit Pixabay

O Antiphons ~  King of Nations

December 22, 2021

O King of Nations, whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and deliver the creature you fashioned from the dust of the earth.

Three days before the birth of the Light, in the O Antiphons, the ancient prayer-song of waiting and expectation, the sixth title given to the Christ (or Light, or Love, if you prefer) is King of Nations, based on the prophecy found in Isaiah 2:4: He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Here is the title for Christ/Light/Love with which I most struggle because Jesus, whoever we believe him to be, never asked to be a king.  Born in humble surroundings to a teenaged blue collar girl in the midst of an occupied country, Jesus demonstrated that same humbleness his entire life.  Whenever people expected him to be king, to wage war, to conquer the Romans, to lift up sword, he did exactly the opposite.  Whenever people wanted to name him king, he always pointed above to God, never to himself.  Because he would not succumb to the lure and power of being an earthly king, he was crucified.

As I ponder the kingship of Jesus this Advent, I realize that Christians worldwide, often including myself, have taken the easier road of putting Jesus on a throne and worshiping him as king rather than accepting his invitation to follow him in servanthood and humility as a disciple.  If we did indeed truly follow King Jesus, then his kingdom would indeed be coming about: 

6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 9: 6-11)

Prayer:  O King of Nations, as we long for your coming, for your light and your love, help us to realize that we are the ones you have invited to make your kingdom a reality.  So many of us still expect you to be a king who invades this world to “sets things right” as we passively watch, and yet that is not what you proclaimed.  If you are truly born in our hearts, then we will follow you—not just worship you–in creating a world where there is no hurt, destruction, war, or injustice.  Help us to understand the true nature of your servant-kingship and to accept your invitation to follow.  May it be so.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Blessings to you ~ Rosemary

O Antiphons ~ Radiant Dawn

December 21, 2021

O Radiant Dawn, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

Four days before the birth of the Light, on this Winter Solstice, in the O Antiphons, the ancient prayer-song of waiting and expectation, the fifth title given to the Christ (or Light, or Love, if you prefer) is Radiant Dawn.  Of the seven names that compose the antiphons, this one, based again on the words of the prophet Isaiah, resonates most with me:  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2)

Last year at this same time, as Covid was killing off thousands of people around the globe and vaccinations were not yet available, we were all living in deep darkness, indeed.  I wrote daily blogs about the presence of the Light and encouraged myself and others to “Light your candles quietly, such candles as you possess, wherever you are” (Fr. Alfred Delp, martyred by the Nazis).  Here we are, a solid year later, still in the midst of pandemic, of political unrest, of inequality, of doubts and fears that persist throughout the years.  Yet still, through the darkness, the Light does shine.  It happens every single day as the sun rises on us once more, offering the grace of new beginnings.  We have been given another day to shine, to be courageous enough to light our candles.

Who needs our light?  It could be the person behind us in the check-out line, the exhausted mother trying to live up to holiday expectations, the child hurt by that same mother’s impatience, an Uber driver, the friend saying goodbye to a beloved pet, the person facing a first Christmas without a loved one, the one with whom we live daily.  Or maybe it is us.  Light shines in any form of compassion.

“The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:5).  This is a promise, a reality, and a gift for all of us.  Together, may we reflect the Light across the world.

Prayer:  O Radiant Dawn, each day when the sun crests the horizon, you offer us another day of life.  Help us not to take that gift for granted but to celebrate it.  Show us how to shine our own lights, no matter how small or insignificant we may think they are, on a world dwelling in fear and sorrow.  Let our lights be beams of love that fall on those who sit in any kind of darkness, and may we each be open to receiving your Light.  May it be so.

Blessings to you ~ Rosemary

Photo credit Pixabay