And over the past couple of days I've made cutout cookies, toffee bars, chex mix, a second batch of fruitcake... All of Little Bear's nap time has been put to good use in the kitchen instead of writing. But today's kitchen list requires his help: Matt wants to make peanut butter kiss cookies with Little Bear, and I'm hoping to finally get the cutout cookies iced. So I figured I could justify sitting down for at least a few minutes here!
So I missed Friday and Saturday's O Antiphons: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) and O Clavis David (O Key of David). Today we have O Oriens, or O Rising Dawn.
(NOT recycled from two years ago, because that one didn't make sense without the post from the previous day.)
O dawn of the east, brightness of light eternal, and sun of justice: come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
The concept of the sun rising in the east and the inherent symbolism of Christ, the Son, coming from the east didn't make a whole lot of sense to me until I went to college in Ohio; we're so far north here that the sun doesn't rise in the east and set in the west. In the summer it kind of goes around in a circle, and in the winter it rises in the south and sets in the south a couple of hours later. So in Ohio, seeing the sun rise in pretty much the same place every morning a) was weird, but b) made this imagery make a lot more sense.
There's no way it is just a coincidence that today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and today's Antiphon is all about light, dawn, enlightenment, etc. Here, the sun rose at 11:00 am and will set at 2:38 pm. Enlighten those who sit in darkness. The imagery is particularly poignant given the very literal interpretation just outside the window; we know all about physical darkness, and are eagerly, impatiently, awaiting the light's return. Going so long with so little visual light makes it easier, I think, to understand the idea of the darlness within our souls when we lack Christ. We need light. The dark Alaskan winters can literally make people crazy. And Alaskans are chronically Vitamin D deficient because we get so little sun exposure from September through April. Without seeing the sun, being in the light, our mental and even physical health starts to deteriorate.
In the same way, we are not spiritually healthy without the Light of Christ. When our souls are in darkness, we cannot even see to find our way back to Him without the grace He gives us, especially through absolution in the sacrament of Confession, enlightening us from the darkness and from the shadow of death.
O come Thou Dayspring from on high
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death'd dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice, rejoice; Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.