This time last year, I’d never heard of Covid-19 or social distancing. We live in the Ozark Mountains, where the air has been of good quality and where people did not grow up distancing. More likely, they have PhDs in gathering and socializing. A bunch of friendly people.
12 months ago, I could not imagine wearing a mask to go anywhere. I could not imagine the chaos that’s happening in the world or in America. You know what I’m talking about—the violence, the unrest in the political arena, the social unrest.
We moved to the mountains for the calm and serenity. But it’s hard to find calm in any direction if you focus on the news. We don’t have television (not hooked up), but it’s all over the internet.
I finally realize that we are living in dark times. Dark in many ways.
My husband relayed a message from the son who loves science and stays weather-aware. Message: Stay awake to the two planets moving closer to each other, closer to the earth.
On my return home from a trip to see my sister, my husband met me in the driveway, wanting to show me something. It may be a southern thing—for husbands to point out and share something with wives. Hubby does this kind of thing frequently, not wanting me to miss some miraculous detail. He pointed to the southwest. “Those two will be coming together on December 21.”
“Oh, that’s Winter Solstice.”
“Yes,” he said. “They're calling these two stars moving toward each other 'the Christmas star.'”
“You mean like the Bethlehem Star?”
“Yes. It’ll be fascinating to watch.”
So, after listening to his show-and-tell, I got my welcome-home hug, which I needed.
I slept well that night. Within a couple of days, a friend sent me an email about the stars. That motivated me to call my son. “Okay, tell me what you know about the two stars coming together.”
It was a topic he loved being asked about. He wound up in food services, but he has a passion for astronomy and the general sciences. He makes it his business to be an authority on the sky, be it weather or stars.
“Mom, it’s Saturn and Jupiter. They’re coming together to look like one bright star. It’ll be its brightest one hour after sunset. Look for it in the southwest.” I told him I’d already seen the two stars around 6:30 (CST) p.m. “That’s it. Jupiter and Saturn. Watch them every evening.”
I put it on our calendar so I’d not miss the sky show. That’s the only way some of us will ever see it—we must write it on the calendar. And let’s pray it’s not cloudy the evening of the 21st.
Oh, he didn’t stop there….
So like the gray-haired men in the corner booth at the local café who talk about the good ole days when they worked in the boat factory or on the dam, he continued. I guess I was somewhat like the familiar waitress calling him by name and interrupting his good story with questions. My questions were not about coffee or his order, of course; they were about these two planets doing a rare thing.
So now I understand that these planets will sit 0.1 degrees apart. They will appear to merge in the earth’s night sky. It has been 800 years since this last happened. That’s a while ago.
This is something my grandma, who dipped snuff and had the kindest voice, couldn’t tell us about. Mama, a good storyteller too, faithfully looked for the dippers in the sky, but she never saw this sky event either.
I’m here in 2020, and I want to see it. I may be able to glean some awe from it.
From what I’ve read and heard, it took the wise men two years of following the star, so I don’t know how that jives with the planets, but I’m all FOR the Bethlehem Star, the wise men, the shepherds. I believe the entire story, including Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus.
Old Testament times set the stage for the dark days when baby Jesus was born. The 400 years of silence between the old and new testaments played a part in readying the world for Jesus, too. What was going on? Darkness in the form of chaos, social unrest, political factions, violence, sin.
The Magi carried gifts and traveled far to worship the Savior of the world. They followed a bright star. (Some say it was a conjunction of Mars, Saturn, Jupiter. Can you see where I’m going with this? Of course you can.)
We know that Winter Solstice, usually December 21 or 22, is the shortest day and longest night. It is the darkest of times.
Here we are in 2020 with the pandemic, violence, chaos, social unrest, sin. Darkness. Here we are with the two largest planets, Saturn and Jupiter, meeting. Light is coming.
Light is hiking into our darkness. That’s the way Jesus does it. He just walks into our hard times, our chaos, our messes. He is the Light. He brings His Light.
I invite you to watch the stars with me, and be aware as you watch the sky that Jesus is full of power, full of love, full of light, wanting to become your Savior and Lord. His Light is offered to all mankind. He is the way to eternal life.
May we remember Jesus as we watch the stars meet. Oh, and you won’t need binoculars.
Christmas blessings to each of you,
P.S. I invite you to enjoy any of my poetry books listed below. If you click the link, it goes to Amazon.
Christmas star, photographed by Pat Durmon, December 2020.