The other day, we observed the winter solstice. The day with the fewest hours of sunlight in the calendar year—the longest, darkest night. I happen to live 100 feet above the Lake Michigan shore, and I am often treated to beautiful sunrises if I get up early enough–the beauty of the emerging sun reflecting off the clouds and vast expanse of the Lake.
This morning was the perfect day to capture the sunrise on my camera. As I was trying to get the right shot, it struck me—this profound interplay of light and dark, of day and night, of water and sky. Not quite day, not quite night. The moment of creation—a new day is born. In the days and weeks ahead, minute by minute we will inch into the light—earlier in the morning and lasting later into the evening.
It impossible not to be awed by the power of this moment, which unfolds each day—mundane in one sense, but far from it in appreciation and “wow” of observing the sun creep over the water, this morning a magenta-red impossible to truly capture within the limitations of the camera lens, much like the impossibility of capturing so much of the brilliance of God’s creation: the mountains, the glaciers, the sea, a thunderstorm, a rainbow (no matter how many times I’ve tried through the years). They must be experienced first-hand—no photograph (no matter how many filters or wizardry I might employ in trying) come close. Awe is an in-person experience. Like Moses experienced at the Burning Bush.
Moses and the Burning Bush
I imagine the ancient Israelites as they crossed from the promise that concludes the Biblical book of Genesis, finished last week into the shadows hovering over the early chapters of Exodus, which we begin this Shabbat.
Rescued from famine and settled in Egypt, reconciled with Joseph, the B’nai Yisrael conclude Act I of our story with great promise in the land of Goshen. But where the story picks up four centuries later in Shemot (Exodus), there “arose in Egypt a new Pharoah who did not know Joseph.” Our ancestors are in their darkest days without even the barest glimmer of light, of hope as they cry out to God from within the depths of slavery.
Moses, having fled from Egypt, tends sheep, far afield from the prince of Egypt he had been and equally far from the leader he will become later in the story (I’m sure I’m not divulging any big spoilers here!). Moses is distracted as he tends to his sheep, caught by the sight of the bright, inexplicable light of a bush afire, burning, yet not consumed by the blaze. From within the brightness and the flame emerges God’s voice calling upon Moses to be his partner in freeing the B’nai Yisrael from the horror of slavery. For Moses to come—reluctant as he is, unqualified as he believes himself to be—from the shadows and shepherd his people to freedom. Bring them from the darkest day and into dawn of freedom.
We are in the darkest days (again) of the horrible plague called COVID-19, this version called Omicron. My hope as the chapter of our story called 2021 leads us into a better 2022, letting us emerge into the light of being together without fear of health.
If you would like to follow me on Twitter, my handle is @B_Barnett. If you are interested in my fiction and other book length-works, please visit my webpage or my Amazon page. My first Cantor BB’s blog