Ten days ago we added a twenty-ninth day to February because the earth still takes precisely 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to go around the sun, forcing us to add an occasional leap day. And tomorrow morning we’ll “spring” our clocks ahead one hour to give us a more convenient way of using the daylight that is following its annual progression.
PRAYER AND SUNRISE
I love watching the church’s stained glass windows start to glow during Morning Prayer as the sun comes up. It’s easy to measure the change as the sun rises a little earlier each day. At Christmas we would end Lauds in the dark, but now the windows are bright with spring dawn by that time.
The window opposite me in the monastic choir is a real help to my praying the psalms in the early morning. Often when there is a reference to light or darkness I’m reminded to look across at the window to check on the progress of the dawn: Nope, still dark. Next time: Hmm, maybe a little gray glow? Next: Ah! Definitely getting brighter. Until finally: Yes! Sun’s up, praise the Lord for another day!
Watching this slow daily progression is a real joy because it coincides with so many of the psalms at Lauds.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS
This weekend there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is of course that by setting the clock ahead an hour we have to begin our day in the gloomy dark again, making it feel as if we’re back in the long darkness of winter. But the good news, for me at least, is that the change to Daylight Saving Time means that I get to experience all over again that beautiful progression of the sun coming up a little earlier each day during Morning Prayer. It reminds me of the Little Prince on his tiny planet who kept moving his stool so that he could watch the sun go down as many times a day as he wanted.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
PROTECTING OUR PASCHAL SYMBOLS
Duh! Well, I guess there are some priests who wouldn’t notice or don’t really care about the symbolism behind the deacon’s carrying the lighted paschal candle into a completely dark church and proclaiming “Light of Christ!” Whatever advantages there might be to celebrating the vigil at 5:00 p.m. in broad daylight, the central symbolism of the light of Christ overcoming the darkness of death would be reduced to zero.