The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a great light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing…
— Isaiah 9:1-2
The precise moment of the 2012 Winter Solstice occured at 6:12 a.m. EST on December 21, marking the official start of the season of winter. Ancient cultures saw the deep shadows of the solstice and the longest night of the year as a time of divination, a contemplation of the future at a magical time. Many customs practiced around the solstice and the celebration of Christmas has roots in ancient times. Fire, candles, and heavenly light are prominent in many observances as illumination provided cheer, warmth, and a focal point for fellowship.
That Christmas and New Year’s Day are celebrated just after the solstice fits with the observances of our ancient ancestors who saw the solstice as a turning point. Some feared that if higher powers were not recognized in the diminishing light of late fall, the sun would not return. Others recognized the solstice itself as a beginning, a welcoming return of the sun, knowing that days would get longer as warming light renewed a winter-stilled earth.
During the eight days of Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights, candles are lit to commemorate a miracle of deliverance. Christians light candles for Advent, a period of reflection leading up to the celebration of the birth of God’s child, sent to deliver humanity. Scientists have sought an explanation for the Christmas star, but many people prefer to believe that the star itself was a miracle. On a clear Christmas Eve, the wonder is re-lived as the first star appears in a darkening sky. In some cultures, such as Poland, Hungary, and other countries, festivals and customs revolve around star themes.
In the days between Christmas and New Year’s, a quiet comes over the land. The frantic pace leading up to Christmas is over. The parties are finished until New Year’s Eve. School is out. Many people take vacations. As you think about the future and your place in it, listen for the gift of silence.
Go outside on a clear, crisp night. Move away from artificial lights into the dark, and gaze into the heavens at twinkling stars and blazing planets. One senses an awesome power, an amazing presence. Think about God’s purpose in that creation, as you stand on the surface of a relatively small orb, held in place by another miracle — gravity. Think about God’s purpose in your creation as you view the sparkling lights of His cathedral. The Christmas star, and the majesty of an emblazoned sky, suggest dreams beyond oneself, acknowledgement of a power that demands high ideals and offers hope for all mankind. There is meaning in the sky on still nights. God will talk to you if you listen. What better time or place to think about New Year’s resolutions?
Homes festooned with lights, candles, evergreens and holly berries, good food and drink, conviviality, generosity, and good will toward men, have roots in thousands of years of human experience. It is about hope, miracles, deliverance, and the promise of a better tomorrow.
To you and yours, we extend good wishes for a happy, healthy, and blessed 2013. May the silence of a still night be golden. May your heart be filled with joy, peace, and thanksgiving.
Lewis Walker is President of Walker Capital Management LLC and Walker Capital Advisory Services, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor (R.I.A.) Securities and certain advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker and Mike Hostetler are registered representatives of SFA which otherwise is unaffiliated with the Walker Capital Companies.