Today is a magical moment when the light begins to return.
By a twist of the earth's orbit the sunset in the cold dark Northern hemisphere will be slightly later today than yesterday. We haven't reached the shortest day yet, that will be on the 21st, but now, finally, we can begin to say Goodbye to the long cold nights. This winter has been particularly bitter so far. Here in London we have had a renewal of covid (I had it badly in the autumn), freezing weather (the worst for a dozen years), strikes (back to home working) and all other sorts of 'foul distress'. Yet the cosmic glory continues and as the stars tick into place to allow the long and slow renewal of nature which will culminate once again in the sweet spring days we sing with the Church the first of the 'O' antiphons:
Quae ex ore Altissimi prodisti -
Attingens a fine, usque ad finem.
Fortiter suaviter, disponens que omnia;
Veni ad docendum nos via prudentiae.
Who proceeds from the mouth of the Most High -
Stretching from end to end of the cosmos -
You hold all things together in a strong yet gentle fashion;
Come and teach us the way of prudent knowledge.
With my friends and colleagues Dominic White OP, Julienne McLean and Tom Bree we have celebrated the Divine Wisdom of God's Motherhood a great deal this year. Most memorably at Wells Cathedral in May when we danced the ancient cathedral circle dances in the Lady Chapel (more on that anon). So today we celebrate the great mystery of Holy Wisdom that 'holds all together in a strong yet gentle fashion'. Traditionally the 17th December also celebrates two key figures of renewal - In the ancient church it was the feast day of St Lazarus - raised bodily from the dead by Jesus Christ in one of his last great acts before the Crucifixion. Whilst in Islam the ecstatic mystic Jalal ud-Din Rumi is remembered on this day, particularly in Konya, Turkey, where his celebrated 'turning dance' is performed in remembrance of the day he attained the divine at his departure from the earthly realm.
So, let us join in the endless dance of the stars and the cosmos as the Most Holy Wisdom catches us up in the Divine choreography that will lead to the discovery of all our hearts' desires.