The Longest Night

Tonight is the longest night. At 5:03 the shortest day of the year ended and the winter solstice, the longest night began.

My family lit candles – six candles on the menorah for the six (thus far) nights of Hannukah and four candles on the Advent Wreath for Peace, Hope, Joy, Love. We won’t light the Christ candle until Christmas Day. My family gathered in the flickering flame. The light looked so fragile, the shadow and the darkness beyond so vast and enclosing.

It feels like it is the longest night in our nation as well.   The President of the New York Police Department Union said “There’s blood on many hands tonight….That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor.” In fact there is blood on many hands. There has been for many generations. Since the first Native was murdered, since the first human was kidnapped into slavery, since the first woman was put into an insane asylum for demanding rights, since the first prisoners were denied the right to vote, every 28 hours as a black man is killed by police, every 4 months as another school shooting is perpetrated by another white male, with the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Dontre Hamilton, Wenjian Liu, Rafael Ramos, Ismaayi Brinsley, Shaneka Thompson and many many others.

Martin Luther King said “All…are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Or as a United Church of Christ minister-to-be said “We are bound to whatever we bind.” Each act of violence, whomever it is visited upon, affects us all. The injustice of the system indicts us all.

It is enough to make anyone weep. It is enough to make anyone numb. It is enough to make it impossible to believe the words of St. Francis that “all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

And yet, this solstice something very unusual happened. At 7:33 only two and a half hours into that long night, a new moon was born. The light of the new moon grows each day, and the night becomes shorter and the day becomes longer.

The protests continue in Milwaukee, in New York, everywhere. We might think this is disrespectful. We might think that we should wait until the holidays are over to focus on these things.   We might despair that we are living in terrible times.

And yet.

What if demanding justice were to bring actual change diminishing the violence visited upon the police and the homeless and school children and black and brown communities and all communities.

What if this time that we are living in is actually the return of light in a country too long plunged in darkness.

What if this Christmas, instead of being about holiday parties and shopping, was about the advent of justice and peace.

Today is a new moon. The days are getting longer. It is Christmas Eve.

The rest is up to us.


Posted on December 25, 2014, in children, Christmas, ferguson, God, hope, new york, racism, ucc and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I absolutely and completely appreciate the optimism in your post. How would you feel about my reblogging it?


  2. Reblogged this on Weaver Grace and commented:
    Thank you Liza for reassuring us that we can bring back and expand the light.

    Like Liza, I have been sifting through memories of my Christmas Pasts, to find ones that nourish new possibilities. I am so content with what I have, my seasonal joy is now from gifting things to people who are in dark times, to surprise and delight them.

    When I studied Psychology, I learned that people collapse under crises just after the worst is over. Forget the common idiom, “the darkest hour is just before dawn”; the darkest hour is the one just after dawn. People tend to give up just as things start to get better. That is one reason to appreciate that Christmas and New Years are after the Solstice; after the darkest, longest night. That means that the most important time for action is now.

    What is making your days merry and bright? How are you brightening the dark times of others?

    (This may be especially true for people close to the North Pole. I have not found a comparable tradition for Southerners; short days are less drastic for them.)

    Liked by 1 person

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