At 11:28 a.m. today, the sun stops its southward journey at its maximum distance from the equator - a stop known as the winter solstice, which results (here in the northern hemisphere) in the annual period of the shortest amount of daylight and the longest length of night. As the accompanying image for the Old Farmer's Almanac illustrates, it is a unique moment best appreciated in stillness and silence, which (not coincidentally) is how Advent was intended to be observed before it became just another adjunct to Christmas.
Last Sunday's NY Times offered an interesting meditation on solstice and winter's darkness from the unique perspective of an airplane pilot, See Mark Vanhoenacker, "At the Solstice, in Praise of Darkness" -
In our post-natural world, in which electricity has made us relatively insensitive to the seasonal fluctuations in natural light and our climate-controlled homes and workplaces have made us comparably indifferent to the seasonal changes in temperature, it takes effort to appreciate the solstice (or indeed any natural phenomenon). That said, the solstice seems to be an especially apt occasion to contemplate the world God gave us and to compare it with the the alternative non-natural world which we have substituted for it.
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