Guest post by Marisa Lapish, Selah Spiritual Wellness Center
I have been looking into space lately, star-gazing to figure out where the “Christmas Star” might be appearing on the longest night of the year, the winter solstice. The solstice arrives in the Cleveland area at 5:02 p.m. on Monday, December 21st and at roughly, 6:00 p.m., we will have about two hours to see Jupiter and Saturn dancing in alignment, a planetary “great conjunction”, giving the impression of what the “Star of Bethlehem” might have looked like at the time of Jesus’ birth.
The last time Jupiter and Saturn were stacked this closely together to give the appearance of a single object was in 1623, but it has been nearly 800 years since the
“Great Conjunction” was at night. What an appropriate ending to what for many of us has been the “longest year”: standing outside in the dark, gazing with upturned face to the heavens for a glimpse of hope, some light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel of 2020.
But there is something else I have noticed about the space afforded to us due to this pandemic of 2020. I have taken time to look into the space within me. There was brokenness inside that I needed to gaze squarely in the eye.
Into this space comes love, Jesus says. Love for him, love for each other, love for others we do not yet know. This is the place of dwelling, really living, like abiding shepherds in their fields at night, not knowing the surprising light to come.
As we gaze into this space, we can choose to look at all of our gnarliness, the divisions and barriers between us which fracture us, and yet while holding this tension, we can reach out for the true reality, our oneness, while we look to Jesus together in common space.
So, despite the hopes and fears of this year on this winter solstice evening when the ‘star’ is brightly shining, would you consider reflecting together on the space between us, even if not physically able to be together, as one in spirit? Will you approach that space with me and tell me what you see?
I offer this simple reflection for stargazing tonight as you light a candle or a bonfire and gather with others, whether in person or in cyberspace, on this winter solstice evening.
Contemplation for a Great Conjunction
Look at us…
The space between us that threatens us
Each, both, and together.
We, who seem worlds apart, like Jupiter and Saturn…
Let us enter the space between us, curious and eager for discovery
From the inside—not from outside,
cold, bold, dark edges, borderlines, and walls,
From the warm light inside us,
together, let us be us.
Let us sit in space together, tell stories and listen,
and consider where and how we might align
Unthreatened, holding hands,
dancing in embraced shared space
What a great conjunction we are!
Look at us…
A Few Questions for Reflection
The Space Within…
As I sit and gaze at God and as God sits and gazes at me, what do I become aware of about myself? What are my wounds and broken places which need healing, restoration, or re-alignment? How have I been both hurt by the Church and how have I hurt others in the Church?
How might my broken places be affecting others I try to love and those whom I refuse to love?
The Space Between Us…
Think about another follower of Jesus who seems to oppose you, or you find difficult to be at peace with relationally? It has been said, “An enemy is the person whose story I have not yet heard”. How might you make time to openly listen to his/her story?
Which categories of Jesus-followers do you view unfavorably, with opposition, cynicism or suspicion (ex., charismatic, evangelical, literalist, liturgical, progressive, organic, institutional)?
How might you share space with various groups of fellow Jesus-followers who are different from you to learn from them? What discoveries might surprise you?
How can we as the Church be present and welcoming to the hurting, mistreated, and “least of these” in our communities? Who are the people in our community who are missing in our pews without a seat at Jesus’ table? How can we become a part of their spaces with hopes to be invited as guests to their tables?
What creativity is God stirring in our hearts together to bring “good news of great joy for all people” in our communities?
As our voices of lament unite in hopeful movement, may we manifest the light of God’s presence to overcome the darkness of our longest year with our “Great Conjunction”.
May we overcome the darkness of space within and without, through our unified hearts of love for God and for each other.
May we inspire justice, peace, and good will as our choir of heaven and earth sings a song of joy to the world in unison into this space of holy night.
God IS with US.