Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Solstice and Christmas

Yesterday was so cloudy one simply had to have faith to celebrate "the turning of the sun." Old Sol has been AOL for days on end, or so it seems. The clouds, the overcast, made suffering the day even worse.

But hope springs eternal because throughout the Northern Hemisphere it was the last bad day, winter solstice. Today there's hope anew. Today, the light returns.

Ancient peoples lined up endless stones across open fields because they wanted--they needed!--a clock to point at the spot at the horizon where the sun would rise at solstice. They wanted to know the reign of darkness would finally recede.
Yesterday already before four in the afternoon, it was sickeningly dark. Seriously, sickening

Listen. For six whole weeks, neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania shut out the lights on test rats, who began thereafter to exhibit characteristics of genuine rat depression. (Fortunately, PETA knew nothing about it.) Uninterrupted darkness put a lid on a sweet little rat's production of norepi­nephrine, dopamine and serotonin—necessary ingredients of emotional health. Poor rats had brain damage. 

Psychologists call light deprivation "seasonal affective disorder." The only cure is light, and, starting today (drum roll please) the sun is making a comeback, thank Godly goodness. There's a new day a'comin'. Put an joyful X over your calendar's winter solstice.

Pagan cultures had their own year-end celebrations like Christmas (sans savior). I felt somehow cheated when I learned that because I thought we Christians threw the only real party. 

Not true, in the broadest sense. Historically, the whole December 25th thing is a ploy (don't tell Fox News I said that).  The idea that Jesus was born on 12/25 was created by Christians to recruit pagans, who were iffy at best when the Christians told them they'd have to give up their end-of-the-year bacchanalia, a week-long bash that included so much fleshy licentiousness early Christians simply wouldn't have it.

"What? no Saturnalia?" said the pagans. "Forget Christianity."

"Tell you what," the Christians said, "let us play around a little, whip up a holiday around a tree with gorgeous multi-colored lights and a star like the one the wise men saw."

"Holiday,  you say?" the pagans said.

They cut a deal. Saturnalia went the way of all flesh. Mostly. You can still go to Vegas.

The Bible simply doesn't say Jesus was born on 25th of December. Christmas is a Christian invention, which is to say, of course, a human thing, not a divine thing. Christ is the only real divine thing.

It's just after six right now, and the world outside my windows is perfectly black. Night is yet upon us. But soon, we will worship the light of the world because in the eternal now, darkness is behind us. Morning will dawn to relieve our seasonal affective disorder. We'll all return to dancing.

"I am the light of the world," Jesus said. "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

The light of life came to make the darkness sink away.  It really is time to celebrate.

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