Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Feast Day of Saint Thomas and the Winter Solstice

Today is the feast day of the man we remember as Doubting Thomas. It is also the Winter Solstice, shortest, and thus, darkest day of the year. It's a juxtaposition that makes sense. This is the time of year when it's tough to hold onto our faith in God's promise that darkness will give way to light.

I've always had a soft spot for St. Thomas. I like the fact that he doubts, and Jesus doesn't hold it against him. It makes sense to me that he would doubt: what a fantastic tale his fellow disciples told him! He must have thought that they'd finally all lost their collective minds. Suffering from spirit-cracking grief himself, he cannot believe in their tale of hope, a tale of hope that defied everything he knew about how life and death worked.

After all, is Thomas so different from any of us? Most of us must wonder if we're dabbling in lunacy ourselves, as we profess our beliefs in a triune God that defies the laws of nature. And most of us have probably had friends who only believe in what their senses tell them, and those friends have likely challenged us a time or two.

The more I read in the field of the Sciences, the more my sense of wonder is reignited. I continue to be so amazed at the way the world works, both the systems we've created and the ones created before we came along. The more I know, the more I want to shout from the rooftops, "Great show, God!" (long ago, when my friend had small children, they would shout this refrain whenever they saw something beautiful in nature, like a gorgeous sunset; I try to remember to shout it too).

So today, as the earth leaves its darkest time and inches towards light, let us raise a mug of hot chocolate to St. Thomas, who showed us that we can have doubts and still persevere. Let us raise a mug of hot chocolate to lunar eclipses and solstice celebrations and the sprigs of new green that many of us will soon be seeing and all the ways that the natural world can point us back to our Creator. Let us pray that our rational selves live in harmony with our sense of wonder.

Here's a prayer from Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Winter for this day: "Everliving God, who strengthened your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in your Son's resurrection: Grant me so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that my faith may never be found wanting in your sight; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen."

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