December 21 is the shortest day of the year, and it would follow that its night is the longest. But it was longer than ever this year, because we were without electricity for most of it.
A prolonged bout of freezing rain that began on Saturday morning threatened to wreak havoc in Toronto and the surrounding area. And indeed, we woke up on the morning of December 22 to a very cold house. When I went outside to salt the steps, I made a detour for the car radio, and heard that over 250,000 people in the city were without heat and warmth, and we were four of them.
Our family was scheduled to light the Advent candle in church yesterday, and we had a huddled conference about whether we should try to drive on the icy streets. I think it appealed to the pioneer spirit in all of us and, with Andrew behind the wheel, we set off, not even knowing whether there'd be a service.
When we arrived, the building was in darkness, but the sanctuary was full of light, thanks to our lovely stained glass windows. The decision was made to go ahead with the service for whatever numbers showed up. And it was very much an improvised affair. My youngest daughter and her friends, who sing in the Youth Choir, were asked to help out the three Junior Choir members who showed up. She also gamely took on one of the parts in the bell choir, never having played in the bell choir before. The numbers were small and the church was cold (as the mother of a performer, I attended both services), but the love and joy that were generated filled the building with a different kind of warmth.
(We have been very lucky. Our power came back on at about 3:00 this morning, and our house is starting to feel livable again. According to news reports, it may be Christmas day or later until power is fully restored in Toronto.)
I wanted to share our Advent reading with you, because it seemed particularly fitting for a city that is struggling with darkness:
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
We are easily distracted by the darkness of isolation and fear.
We light this candle as a symbol of Love.
Source of light, shine in our lives and in your world with your everlasting love."
Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas, and may you receive whatever kind of light you need most.