Lighting the Dark

Yesterday I got the lights up on the front of the house. The upcoming Big Holiday is secular for me; although I do love singing carols. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I was raised in the Christian method; at least the Christian Science of my youthful Sunday exposure was based on an whipped batter of New England protestant and transcendental ethos, (call it eggs and sugar) with a healthy dose of faith healing (vanilla). The argument the husband made in relation to my thinking of myself as Christian arose from the fact that subscribers to the Church of Christ, Scientist don’t accept Jesus as Christ, rarely call him that, but do use monikers like Shepherd and Wayshower.

This is all to say that my celebration—if the annual Hanging of the Lights can be called a celebration—is also a batter of birth-of-Jesus tradition, the pagan rite of an indoor tree adorned with tinsel and things, and the beauty of neighborhood Christmas lighting. A kind of savory cake with Sriracha spice.

In filing photos I’ll use for my annual Winter Solstice card and calendars, I did a quick review of 2020. Among the photos I’ll compile—dogs, cats, flowers, skies—I exported one photo of the freshly ironed masks I made last winter, calico patterns, shaky seams, crooked pleats, and a slot in which we can shove a shard of hepafilter swiped from the vacuum cleaner supplies.

Thus is my one mention of the gigantic gorilla taking up space in all the rooms of our house.

The rest of the year is fairy tale, minus smiling ogres, blundering trolls and murderous giants. Also mean witches and devilish step-mothers. There are cats with green eyes looking at my phone as if trying to decide if it is friend or foe. Sleeping dogs, because dogs are uncooperative models with furtive glances who leave the room as soon as the phone or camera appears in my hand. Flowers because they love to be photographed; they pose lavish and girlie, garishly dressed or Japanese subtle. Skies because clouds are magical, sunsets beguiling and mysterious.

I’d have birds too, if my binoculars had a camera button to capture the junco in the duff or the spotted towhee in the birdbath. It takes good equipment to photograph wild birds, quickness, skill, the right lens and a tripod. Any photo I could take with my binocs would be blurry anyway because I can’t hold them still.

It’s too bad we can’t hold a nationwide bash on New Year’s Eve. We need to super-celebrate the passing of 2020. I envision dancing in the street. Fireworks. Public drinking and weed smoking. Blessedly, the husband and I suffered the year with little loss, unlike so many.

I look to December 21 with anticipation, because after that day, the nights will start, imperceptibly, to shorten. (Why doesn’t the Mac Calendar app include the Solstice? Annoyed, here.) As luck would have it, as I was looking for descriptions of Yule I stumbled on a NASA report about a rare conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, visible on December 21, 2020. How cool is that! The Christmas Star will show up at the end of 2020!

This “star”, according to Matthew, guided three astrologers (or, perhaps, royal prophets) to Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem. The scientific and theological juries are out on whether there was a star, and if so when and what it was according to science as we know it. This Winter Solstice conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, will be visible in the southwest sky an hour after sundown.

Call me a pagan Christian, or a secular worshipper, whatever, but I feel that the chance to see a prophetical celestial event on the longest night of the year is something I won’t want to miss. It’s light, folks. A good thing in the dark.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Lighting the Dark — 4 Comments

  1. Yes, that top / opening photo is astonishing.

    For me the new year this time around won’t be here until January 20th, 2021 has successfully closed down, for ALL THE REASONS!

  2. I consider myself a paganized christian. Grew up Lutheran, switched to Episcopalian, then threw them all aside in favor of trees and Sasquatch and wildlife. We walk the neighborhood most evenings glorying in the light displays that push aside the darkness a little bit.

  3. I think it was back in the sixties that there was a three planet conjunction on the 25th. M father rousted me up at o-god-dark hundred to come out on to the back porch to see it. It was a really brilliant light in the sky.