By: Sister Timothy Marie, OCD
Every day we look forward to the gift of another dawn as the sun begins to peek through the curtain of the night to bring the vibrancy of color back to us yet again. It is a ritual of sorts, isn’t it? When the first blush of the dawn greets the dark cloak of the night sky and slowly but surely overcomes the darkness. Sunrises are breathtaking. Each one is new. Each is unique.
Part of the drama of each sunrise is found precisely in the waiting, in the expecting that, yes, yes, the sun will climb out of its bed just like the rest of us and bring the light back to the earth, the light and warmth necessary for our survival.
Truth be told, we must give equal time to the sunsets. That moment when the sun slips below the horizon and leaves splashes of its grandeur painted across the sky until the last color fades into eternity and the darkness of the night embraces the earth once again.
It is almost too much beauty to take in all at once. Maybe that is why the sun rises slowly in increments so that one hardly even notices that the darkness is no longer, or that at the end of the day, the setting sun slips away quietly. The whole dynamic is a gift from God to us. What a grace!
Like so many of God’s gifts, it can become routine, can’t it? It is almost unnoticed, taken for granted, and sometimes even forgotten. What an embarrassment to us that we forget so easily, and relegate ourselves to receiving without any thought at all about its beauty. Or to the One who so freely gives the gift. It becomes merely another routine within our day. And the Giver of the Gift forgotten, also.
The same can be said for the liturgical year of the Catholic Church. We attend Mass on Sunday and notice that the colors are changed to green, or red, or white, or purple. Without a conscious thought about it, we just placidly accept and go on with our life. No, the theme of color and light in our liturgical seasons is highly symbolic and staggeringly beautiful. They, too, are gifts.
This is true of the Advent Season. It takes place during the four weeks before Christmas. As Scripture tells us, while the world waits in darkness, the Savior, the Light of the World, enters that darkness and dispels it. However, like the sunrise which climbs the horizon slowly, Advent gives us a preview of the scattering of the darkness at the birth of Christ.