Friday, January 1, 2010

Look for God in the stillness of dawn's early light

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Before seminarians are or­dain­ed, they go on a silent week-long retreat to prepare and reflect.

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Deacon Douglas Pierce
Last January, before we were or­dain­ed deacons, my classmates and I went on retreat at St. John’s. Before the sun rose in the morning, I en­joy­ed praying in a room that overlook­ed a lake surrounded by trees.

When I first sat down to pray, all was darkness. Little by little, I watch­ed as what had been a dark wash of gray with murky glimpses of trees began to come alive. Forms began to be distinguishable. I could see the shape of the lake and surrounding forest. Everything was a light bluish purple, until fingers of red began reaching across the sky, giving the trees and snow a warm glow.

The colors were changing quickly now and soon everything was lit up as the sun rose over the trees. Morning had arrived!

“Your light has come, Jerusalem! The glory of the Lord has dawned upon you!” These words from Isaiah capture the excitement of anyone who has waited to see the first rays of dawn. It is an exhilarating feeling. But the dawn prophesied by Isaiah is more spectacular than a beautiful sunrise.

The Magi of the Gospel were seeking that light and found it. Guided by the light of a star, they set out to find the Light of the World. They saw him with his mother, Mary, and they worshiped him.

God has come into our world quietly like the dawn. But there are still shadows; there even were on the first Christmas. Unknown to many, only a few gathered to worship Jesus. Soon after his birth, Herod slaughtered numerous innocent child­ren in his fear of the new king.


God removes the shadows

For us, life is not always filled with the Christmas joy that we would like either. Even at Christmas time, we can experience the shadows of life. Perhaps family tensions are high or maybe someone’s house was just foreclosed on.

Each of us can come up with a laundry list of things that we don’t like or are downright wrong, but the feast of the Epiphany gives us an important reminder: hope. The fullness of Christ’s light is still to come.

In the struggles of life, a great deal depends on how we look at things.

As I looked over the lake at St. John’s, between the darkness and the daylight everything was shadowy and gray. But, seeing the gray, I knew that the daylight had almost arrived.

When we experience pain and trial, we are reminded that we have not yet experienced the fullness of Christ’s power.

But this is not a time to despair. It is a time to look forward to what is to come, trusting in God ever more firmly.

The world is not as it should be. Our lives are not what we’d like. The existence of shadows, though, is not the end of the story. God’s light has dawned upon us. And, in hope, we look forward to the full light of day!

Deacon Douglas Pierce is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary. His home parish is St. Agnes in St. Paul and his teaching parish is St. Bernard in St. Paul. Catholic Spirit
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