This shortest day of the year has been gray and bitterly cold here in the suburbs of our nation’s capital. I spent a good part of the afternoon out with my elderly dog, making halting progress around the perimeter of a grocery store parking lot. One of the abiding pleasures of Kiko’s old age is a ride and a walk, followed by a snooze in the car while I shop. Having underestimated the chilling effect of the breeze, and not expecting to be out for very long, I was inadequately dressed. Every leaf and every square inch of sidewalk seemed to be calling out to my dog’s discerning nose. He sniffed, and sniffed, and continued to sniff some more. Yet there was no resolution. Never a suggestion of a lifted leg, nor even the briefest of squats. An unlimited number of intriguing smells, yet none deserving of Kiko’s unique canine signature. We made our usual circuit and then continued on around the assisted living facility. Still nothing, so I put him back in the car and headed into the grocery, my fingers numb, my patience tried, my temper short. I knew that once we got home, Kiko would need another outing.
Sure enough, as I was dealing with the groceries, Kiko strolled confidently into the kitchen and pawed at the door. On his placid, expressionless face, I read smug entitlement. I love this dog, I thought, but why? By then it was dark, and even colder, but I bundled up as if for an arctic expedition. Fortunately Kiko remembered the reason for the walk, and we were back quickly.
Back into the indoor warmth and the cheerful, comforting lights that currently adorn nearly every room of our house.
On this first day of winter, and on the short, dark days ahead, I’ve found that I need the soft, glowing lights of Christmas like I need food and water. Like my old dog needs his slow, rambling walks. The lights of Christmas are a heartening reminder that in our chaotic, angry, crazy world, God’s love endures.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
–The Gospel of John, 1:5