Saturday, 9 November 2013

Wondrous doings

Waxing Moon
... is, of course, a phrase from the evening hymn, which says:
The Sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren 'neath the western sky

I've got one of those star-gazing apps on my phone, which tells you the names of the stars and planets you can see. It shows you the outlines of the creatures of the constellations - wonderful to see the celestial zoo above your head. We're in Suffolk this week, with its wide, clear starscapes - Venus and Jupiter in view, and the Milky Way ("Walsingham Way"), which as I've often said here I can't see at home. We've had rain and cloud, but also a couple of bright, almost frosty evenings when the stars seem so bright and close. I can wander about, holding my phone over my head, mapping my way though the heavens. 

And I've found another use for the app! Indoors, and held upside down. Sometimes I say Night Prayer using my phone (I've got a Breviary app too...) and then I switch to the star-map. If you hold it down it shows you what's beneath you and above the heads of those on the other side of the planet. I can see where the Sun is, and imagine my friends enjoying its rays in the parts of the world where it's daytime. In the solitude of darkness it's sometime comforting (even for an introvert!) to think of daytime things - work, play, conversations, creativity - happening. And of course the many parts of our fragile world where our prayer is needed. 

"I believe in the Sun even when it is not shining". These words were found scratched on the wall of Auschwitz. How dare I compare my trivial concerns with the suffering of whoever wrote this? But the words still comfort me. On especially dark, moonless nights it can be hard to believe in the Sun. But eventually a sliver of the waxing Moon will appear, catching the Sun's hidden rays and reflecting them to us, holding faith for us. Or the bright Evening Star. 

Of course this isn't really - or should I say only - about the sights of the night sky: "the Sun and Moon, your beautiful works - but they are your works, not you yourself." (St Augustine). It's about the light of the risen Christ, the light that no darkness can quench. The light we long for in this dark, fragile November season. 


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