by Brad Cole
On the horizon a bright round moon rose up into the sky, out of the snowy trees as though the forest had given birth to it. It was a beautiful winter world with winding trails tunneling under trees that were beneath a foot of snow. I thought, being the longest night of the year, it was rare to see so well by the glow of a full moon.
I was out walking during the Christmas holidays feeling a deep sense of weariness, a need to withdraw from the world of work and stress and just sleep. I wished to leave behind the demanding hardness of life and retreat into the darkened cave of foggy forgetfulness and slumber. At times I would fall into a strange sleep where only a strong faith helped me to see the distant star that guides people through the long, dark and holy night.
Pausing on the road where a large meadow opens out, I looked carefully down the open field about 2 miles long and 50 yards wide, a little wider where there is an icy pond. Since my eyes were weakened by the darkness I tried to “sense” the meadow with my whole being to check if there was any movements or life, possibly a wolf or a moose passing through it. Walking in the wilderness is a great way to connect to and develop one’s senses and instincts, one’s natural intelligence. I can only feel “big” when being outdoors.
Feeling the cold wind against my face I thought about Christmas. It is a giving time of year where the whole holiday season is like the gift-wrapping of a holy spirit. People should make it look and feel as special as possible. The love and joy of unions with friends and family adds to its goodness. The spirit of community should be strengthened at this time of year.
It suddenly starting snowing with large white flakes flying about in the sky like small icy feathers that the wind had stirred up and released upon the land. The snow in broad sweeping gestures was busily blanketing the forest in strong gusts of wind. The large amounts of falling flakes was hurriedly burying the land as though it had died and now needed to be properly covered up with a dense, white sheet.
Looking through the thick whirling mass of snow I suddenly felt alone in the night. I put my hood over my head to keep the snow out of my eyes and kept walking, while feeling the icy wind slamming against my parka. I stepped off the road and into the deep snow of an embankment to a trail that heads through the woods back to the village. Pausing momentarily, I looked up at the night sky and saw the moon passing quickly behind dark clouds. A single bright star flickered and could be seen only for a moment before being covered, too. Since I was young the night has always fascinated me, I thought. It is as though I can think more clearly outside walking in the night. A connection to the Heavens is important for the soul. I would not be surprised if the whole spiritual universe was structured like a vast church. I would call it, “the church of the holy night”.
Heading back home I hiked following the frozen trail under trees of snow. In the forest there are tracks of many different animals including my own. We are all in search of something. Christmas is such a beautiful season that offers so much. It is a time for the church to share its’ spiritual wealth to enrich the lives of people. It is a time for lonely souls of the night who like the three wise men seek to be guided by a distant star.