As if to herald the shortening days, the freeze level in the mountains is creeping down towards us. After the weekend of rain the frost in the mountains dusts the trees with winter quite lower and lower each day. It would be nice to think that we might have a white Christmas. That doesn’t appear in the forecast, but then, forecasts are always guesses. Either way, the snow will not be far away. If need be, we can always run up the hill and see some. It’s all part of the great pendulum swing of the year. We have nine hours of light now and increasing cold but in July will have 16 hours of light and increasing heat.
What is not so obvious is the incremental shift in this pattern that has been noted with increasing urgency over the last 40 years. Though the days are just as short as they always were, the winters are not as wet and not as cold. Though the days are just as long in the summer, they are hotter and dryer. The rate of change has accelerated over the last century in ways that should startle is all. The closer you get to the Arctic, the clearer it is to see. Perhaps that is why in this neck of the woods one’s carbon footprint is the topic of daily conversation.
Does the religious sense of the season sidestep these questions, for some they do, for me they do not. The coming of the Christ child in my Christian tradition reveals the coming together of the divine and the created. The environment, created by the divine, is linked to the divine. We, part of the created order, are also linked to the divine. If we, part of the created order, destroy that created order, how can we welcome the divine? I believe that for the Christian who believes in the Incarnation, Christmas is a call to care for all of the created order, not simply by what makes us comfortable or wealthy right now, but in full view of the divine ground of it all.