Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14: Sunrise

This morning the sun officially rose at 7:04 a.m. EST. Our house faces east, but because the craggy bulk of Mount Battie looms right out our front windows, we don't normally see the actual sun till a few hours after it comes up. So  I was surprised today to pull up the kitchen blind and get a face full of sunshine. There was the rising sun, peeking around the corner of Mount Battie. A rare sight, indeed, even if I were an early riser. With a week to go till the Winter Solstice, the sun tracks a low arc in the sky these days. We'll enjoy less than 9 hours of sun today. To counter any bleak thoughts of the diminishing light, a crisp blue sky offers a welcome change from last night's rain. Enjoy the light on your face while you can.

I learned from that it's the saint day of St. John of the Cross, patron saint of mystics, about which Thomas Merton had this to say: "Just as we can never separate asceticism from mysticism, so in St. John of the Cross we find darkness and light, suffering and joy, sacrifice and love united together so closely that they seem at times to be identified."

Also, this quotation from John himself:

"Never was fount so clear,
undimmed and bright;
From it alone, I know proceeds all light
although 'tis night."

I'm not Catholic, although I'm married to one (which is one step closer to playing one on TV). But I welcome spiritual enlightenment and knowledge from all sources, including Catholic mystic poets. St. John of the Cross conveys so well the essence of this season, when we must learn to embrace both light and dark as the nights lengthen, sacrifices of all kinds--as well as love--as we plan for the holidays, and cold and warmth as we endure the variable weather.  He's speaking of the light of his Christian God, of course, but we may also read his words as referring to the sun, one of the original gods, the true center of our solar system from which "proceeds all light" even if our part of the planet doesn't happen to be facing it at just this moment. 

A week from Solstice.
Sun peeks around the mountain--
hopeful morning light.

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