Doesn't look much like Goshen in the winter, does it? It's not. In this morning's sermon, Carmen Horst shared some of her fond memories of darkness, including Christmas time in her childhood home of the Argentinian chaco. She talked of the beauty and scent of the night-blooming cereus, the cactus whose flowers open once a year, for a single night.
This night-blooming cereus was in the little backyard laundry area at Casa Goshen, in Costa Rica. It bloomed, hugely, soon after we got there in 1992. For a sense of the size, each bloom was about a hand's width across.
While acknowledging the many biblical passages that use the image of darkness to talk of trouble, sin and death, Carmen also named some of the positive passages, like Isaiah 45:3:
I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
The night-blooming cereus certainly counts as one of the treasures to be found in darkness.
Carmen's sermon wasn't just on darkness and possible gifts to be found there. Our Advent theme has been "Darkness is cradle for the dawning," and her sermon title was "Celebrating the Dawn." She reminded us that the dawn is not the same as sunrise, especially not this time of year. Dawn begins with the first lightening of the sky, and we wait and watch, wondering what the day will be, just as we wait and watch with a newborn child.
I've been up before dawn the last day or two -- it's not much of a challenge here in midwinter. Yesterday I stood in the wondrous luminosity of a clear sky, shortly before sunrise, and felt surrounded by light. Not something to capture with a photo, but simply to be enjoyed.
The clear sky held all day, so in the afternoon, John and I made a quick trip to the Defries Calendar Garden south of town.
Light and color, even on a cold December day in northern Indiana.
And there were even a few open blossoms, though on a much smaller scale than the night-blooming cereus. I don't know what bush this was, but the flower clusters were only about the size of a quarter. Large or small, midwinter or midsummer, day or night -- this world holds much beauty and many wonders to be discovered.
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.