A Year We Will Never Forget
What a year this has been. Unlike anything most of us have ever lived through before. A pandemic that resulted in national and worldwide shutdowns, and it’s rebounding as we near the end of the year; a crazy, toxic election that has left many Americans deeply divided and resentful of each other; riots, wildfires, quarantining, isolation, separation, virtual meetings, masks and Zoom calls. And now a stimulus bill that scatters American wealth to the four winds yet tosses bread crumbs to struggling families and businesses. Oh, and did I mention “murder hornets” and Joro spiders?
We all could use a little “peace on earth, goodwill to men” this Christmas.
A couple of nights ago, Lisa and I rode up the street to a nearby church parking lot, to catch a glimpse of another once-in-a-lifetime event of 2020, the “Great Conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky. The last time these two planets appeared so close to each other was about 800 years ago. They appeared as one to the naked eye, and the brilliance was beautiful. The next day, I looked up some space observatory sites to find telescope images, and found this one by South Carolina meteorologist Ed Piotrowski. Truly a magnificent sight. And it will continue to be visible through Christmas Day, I understand. Little wonder some have dubbed it the Christmas Star this year. We could use some “merry and bright” this season.
Ed Piotrowski’s image stack of Jupiter with four moons Europa, Ganymede, Io and Callisto, and Saturn with its Titan moon. Taken Dec. 21, 6pm, EST
We’ve had outstanding weather here in the American Southeast, not just this fall/winter, but much of the year. Today, as I write this, the sun is streaming in, the highs will be upwards of 57 degrees by mid-afternoon, and I’m planning on taking a short moto ride on the Bonneville in a bit. A small squirrel is perched on the back porch rail, eye-balling me through the bay window, munching on some yard nugget, tail flitting to and fro. At least for the moment, “a thrill of hope” fills my heart, and my “weary world rejoices” for a few minutes. It’s a welcome feeling I am savoring, with a little dog curled up comfortably in my lap as I type.
Isn’t that what Christmas is meant to be? A time to “hit pause”, to shut off the noise, to tune out the static, and to adjust our hearts to a place of peace and faith, even for a few fleeting moments, with friends and loved ones as well as in some quiet solitude? As a Christian, I pause to reflect on my faith’s reason for this season, that announcement that lit up a night sky over a crew of lowly sheep herders, bringing “good tidings of great joy that will be for all the people.” A transcendent moment, far greater than any planetary convergence, that I can rest my mind, my heart, my life upon, especially in these uncertain times. That first announcement came in adverse days as well, to a people under the iron-fisted rule of Rome, via a local puppet tyrant named Herod the Great, amidst the poverty of a dusty region in Palestine. Hope was born, quite literally.
So my hope and prayer for you, wherever you are, is that you’ll find some time this Holiday Season to step back from the crush and chaos, take a deep breath, throw a leg over your steel steed for a little ride, and renew your soul a bit. “Unplug from the Matrix” as my wife would quip, and reflect on the blessings in your life, as I am today. As we do that, I think we’ll find some thankfulness welling up within, and I pray you find some hope to carry on. For me, that’s the message of Christmas- Hope is rekindled. “For unto you is born, this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Gotta go- Bonney is calling. Merry Christmas!
She’s calling me. I must obey.