We are well past what John Donne called ‘the year’s midnight’ – December 21st! It is getting light earlier in the morning now and staying light
for a little longer in the evenings. Still, February can feel very dark, it can be quite depressing and difficult to get through. In a recent survey, parents said the most challenging month to get through is February, which is saying something as it is the shortest month.
I was reminded a few weeks ago that we tend to think about our lives in the same way we think about the course of a day - early morning and first light in the east is analogous with the beginning of our lives, our childhood and youth, noon represents our middle years full of vigour and strength, and the setting sun in the west speaks to us of our waning years. Chronologically, we travel from east to west – from sunrise to sunset, from light to dark.
But, spiritually, because of who Jesus is, our Rising Sun/Dayspring (Luke 1:78, see also Mal. 4:2), our pilgrimage is the other way round.
It’s the reverse! We move eastwards, towards that rising and that beginning, the first day of our eternal week, our sunrise.
In 2 Cor. 4:16 the apostle Paul puts it like this, ‘Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day’ and in Rom. 13:11 he says, ‘...our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed’ (Rom. 13:11). C. S. Lewis reflected this idea too in his Narnia books. The third book is called ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ - Dawn Treader travels East towards sunrise, towards the light, towards a new beginning rather than West towards sunset and the night, the end of the day.
Even though February is dark it is exciting to remember that we are moving towards more seasonal light, more warmth, more life (snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils) but how much more exciting is that in Jesus we are all ‘Dawn Treaders’, not traveling towards the setting sun but towards the rising sun, towards a new day.
As the poet Malcolm Guite put it in his poem O Oriens,
‘...So every trace of light begins a grace in me, a beckoning.
The smallest gleam is somehow a beginning and a calling:
Sleeper awake, the darkness was a dream... For you will see
the Dayspring at your waking, beyond your long last line the
dawn is breaking.’