The light began to dance; shimmering, shifting, flowing, and whimsically changing colour. It was accompanied by “music” which defied description. When the sounds faded, the lights continued their cosmic dance. It was my introduction to Northern Lights. The beauty of the lights was mesmerizing but the silence seemed to beg the cosmic orchestra to play the symphony once again. This feeling of being connected to the very being of creation reminded me of our family’s experience one Christmas Eve.
Our children were finally old enough to come with us to church for the late Christmas Eve service. We heard the re-telling of the story of the birth of the Christ child, the coming of the shepherds, and the angel choirs. We prayed, listened and sang familiar carols. Once the service was over we left the tiny church, caught up in the joy and the mystery.
It was well past midnight as we packed sleepy children into the car. As we began the frosty drive home, singing and talking in order to keep them awake, there was a moment when we all felt drawn into the silence of the night. It was as though we became solitary travellers, explorers, traveling to a new land. Festive lights seemed brighter as they illuminated the way. We were traveling a new path leading us to an unknown destination.
As we drove along those deserted streets, the stillness brought something momentous, it captured us. It was as if the angel hymns we imagined as we sang familiar carols were being sung all around us. They were being sung just beyond our hearing. It was as if we could see and hear the whole creation remember and celebrate the coming of the Christ. It was music the deaf could hear, and beauty the blind could see!
When we arrived home, the children got out of the car and stood quietly looking skyward with what might be described as awestruck awareness. Then it was gone. The silence opened up to the sounds of life around us, and sleepy excited young voices wondered if it was early enough to open just one gift.
The story of a baby born in a manger, the story of the Incarnation, is also the story of a Creator God who is neither distant nor uninvolved. The Holy One is the source of kindness love and mercy to all creation. Jesus is the beacon of hope. He is at once the infant in the manger, the figure on the cross and the Risen One proclaiming life. St. John the Divine sang his Christmas song in his gospel: “The Mind of the Universe became a human being, and from his fullness, we all have received grace upon grace upon grace.” We are encouraged to relinquish all of ourselves into this grace of love and forgiveness. It is what we were born into and the pulsating presence of God is already beating in our hearts.
Christmas brings us to the threshold of relationships. Relationship with each other, relationship with the Creator and all of creation. It is meant to remind us that in our struggles and losses we are truly valued and known.
That Christmas Eve we knew with certainty that the entire cosmos had invited us to join in the song of joy and thanksgiving for the coming into the midst of us of “the Mind of the Universe.”
The Reverend Canon Nancy Ford, Deacon, is the Anglican Director of Deacons for the Diocese of British Columbia and Deacon to the City of Victoria out of Christ Church Cathedral.
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* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, December 23 2017