We slip out of the house before dawn, into the cold morning air. The neighborhood is still and the sky is clear so we can see what we’ve come for: Orion presiding majestically over the southern sky, the three stars of his belt in a perfect line. He has spent the entire night crossing the heavens, and he is about to slip behind the trees to the west, heading on to distant skies before the sun arrives in the east. And there is Leo, just behind him, four tiny white dots that somehow look like a lion. And the big dipper, ursa major, a giant ladle scooping out the liquid darkness of the sky.
It is the season when the church speaks of waiting, of watching for the light to come and banish the darkness. At night we read Wombat Divine, about the wombat who wants to be in the Christmas pageant but can’t find the right part until he gets called on to play Jesus. We read A Wish for Wings that Work, a story about the impossible becoming possible. We read Someone’s Coming to our House: “Who is coming to our house? Someone, someone, whispers Mouse.” We light candles at dinner each night to ward off the night.
But the stars in Orion’s belt, the stars that outline the lion – these are not lights that chase the darkness away. These are lights that live in the darkness, that make the darkness come alive with legend and myth. These are lights that tell a story. If it weren’t for the darkness, we would miss the light.