Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV
We heard the tick-tick-tick of sleet pecking the dining room greenhouse windows after sunrise. Last Wednesday’s snow storm had turned into an ice event. Sleet changed to freezing rain during the day, and snow sugared the mountain landscape after dark.
Ice covered the trees and shaded sections of the mountain road through the weekend. Our new composite deck still has ice on the north side below the dining room windows. No eating on the dining deck as we did at Thanksgiving; no grilling in the Big Green Egg for Keith. Now we’ll use the oven, stovetop, or Tuliviki bake oven, which provide welcome warmth to the house.
Winter has come.
Early this morning, Keith and I woke at the precise moment the north pole reached its maximum tilt away from the sun: 10:03 Universal Time—minus five hours for Eastern Standard Time. December 21, 2020, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In our location, daylight will last only about 9½ hours.
Our daughter and granddaughter in Hong Kong enjoyed daylight for about 10¾ hours. Hong Kong is closer to the equator, and thirteen hours ahead of us, so it’s Tuesday there now. In Murmansk, a port city north of the Arctic Circle in northwest Russia, there was no sunrise or sunset today, only continuous darkness or twilight.
Last night was also the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s often called “Blue Christmas,” a time to mark our losses, a time to grieve, a time when it seems darkness has overcome the light. This year in particular, as many of us have lost loved ones, the lyric, “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you,” might trouble our hearts.
“For me, one of the most compelling images of peace in chaos is a tree in a winter storm—harsh and cold winds whipping through, yet still rooted; battered, bruised, its branches starkly stripped of leaves but somehow still standing, planted into the earth, gathering an unexplainable strength from the Source. Surviving, enduring, living despite it all.
Peace doesn’t mean our circumstances will change.
Peace doesn’t mean our hearts are completely still and settled.
Peace doesn’t mean we don’t still weep or wail or feel afraid.
Peace means that in the middle of the storm we can be strengthened by God, by something bigger than us, by the comfort and presence of the Holy Spirit, the Prince of Peace—and that we can be rooted, grounded, and tethered in the midst of chaos.”
I wish you God’s peace.
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