Day Twelve of the Twelve Days of Christmas

Follower of Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1525) The Adoration of the Magi.

In the Celtic tradition, this daily celebration of the coming of the light of each day then became a daily reminder of heaven, of the future light of eternity:

O God, who broughtest me from the rest of last night
Unto the joyous light of this day,
Be Thou bringing me from the new light of this day
Unto the guiding light of eternity.
Oh! From the new light of this day
Unto the guiding light of eternity.

Then there is a prayer in the evening, as the light fades at dusk, at the time of "the change-over routine," as naturalists in Africa call that moment when evening falls and the wild creatures welcome the coming of the darkness.

I am in hope, in its proper time,
That the great and gracious God
Will not put out from me the light of grace
Even as thou dost leave me this night.

This is a reminder of something that is only too easy to forget in a culture of urban values: both the light and the dark have a role to play. John Davies, a bishop who has known both Africa and England, and who now lives on the borders in North Wales, reminds us: "There is a place within the providence of God for the darkness, the night, the shadow. Our individual formation is in the dark, between conception and birth. The mysterious workings of our bodies are in the dark. The seed grows secretly in the dark. … We need to recognize and work with this darkness, even when we feel that it is opposing the light which is the primary gift of God."
— To Pause at the Threshold: Reflections on Living on the Border, by Esther de Waal. Morehouse Publishing, 2001.


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