December Nights

Last night, we took Augie for a short walk. He, like a child, tends to behave better when he’s spent all of his energy. So, after a creative meeting at church, we hooked up his new ‘hands-free’ leash and  strolled to the end of our street.

The chill was nice – fresh air in its truest form. I’d had a long day and was still feeling the effects of our trip to St. Louis last week. I breathed deeply, hoping the late-autumn air could reach all the way down into the bottom of my chest. Several neighbors have their Christmas lights up and glowing. I smiled as I thought of the happiness those lights bring to passers-by. Then I looked up.

The clarity of the stars in our neighborhood is one of the reasons we chose to live here. They sparkle and twinkle vividly, asking to not just be noticed, but beheld.

A quiet December night is a rare gem, and one that I always treasure. The magnitude of the season begs for these nights. Our busyness steals too many sacred moments. Even when I was younger, in the middle of decorating and cookie cutting and present wrapping, I would notice my dad missing – only to find him alone on our back deck, gazing up at the sky. Maybe it was then I learned that the things everyone else expects you to do, the things that aren’t actually necessary can wait. Getting outside, under that chilly cloak of stars, away from the noise of the city, the to-do lists on the refrigerator, helps me sink into that somber place. That holy place of knowing that I am safe, that I am loved in big, endless circles, becomes real.

Every year I need this reminder, often more than once. I need space to sneak away and be alone in the quiet. I need to be by myself, to let the weight of infant Jesus’ purpose draw out tears, to let the light of heaven well up under my skin. I need to worship. It needs to find me, to envelop me, to remind me what it feels like to share space with my Creator.

No matter what worries creep into my nights, I can look up and breathe back in the stillness.

I am wishing this for you too. May you sink into many still, starry nights. Perhaps they won’t be full of gifts or food or even family, but be full of Light.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
. . . O night Divine.

– sam

For more goodness sparked from a cold evening stroll, read A Walk One Winter Night by a guy I met on an elevator at Belmont in Nashville, Al Andrews. I think you’ll like it.


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