These readings came my way.
Susan Cooper, The Shortest Day (Written for the Christmas Revels)
So the shortest day came
and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries
of the snow white world
Came people singing, dancing,
to drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees
They hung their homes with evergreens
They burned beseeching fires all night long
to keep the year alive.
And when the new day’s sunshine blazed awake
they shouted “Reveille!”
And all across the ages you can hear them, echoing, behind us,
All the long echoes sing the same delight
this shortest day.
As promise wakens in the sleeping land
They carol, feast, give thanks
and dearly love their friends,
and hope for peace.
So do we here now, this year, and every year
From a letter by Fra Giovanni Giocando, in 1513
(Excerpts from this letter are used in some performances of Christmas Revels)
“I salute you. There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present moment. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. And so, at this time, I greet you with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.”
From a sermon by John Donne on the Mercy of God, quoted by Elizabeth Goudge:
He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light; He can bring thy summer out of winter, though thou have no spring; though in the ways of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damped and benumbed, smothered and stupified till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon, to illustrate all shadows, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries, all occasions invite His mercies, and all times are His seasons.
Yesterday morning, I sat in Kendal Quaker Meeting, where there were 15 people, all of whom I know, and I felt love for all of them and then felt myself held in a field of love. It was wonderful. Like the sun at noon.