Christmas Eve Night In Rangely- Ken Bailey

CHRISTMAS EVE NIGHT IN RANGELY, late 1960's. St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Rangely had a Midnight Mass every Christmas Eve. The first several years our family did not attend, as they did not know if we kids would stay awake that late, but (starting around 1968), we did.

CE Night.jpg

I remember Rangely's light but frozen snow cover, turned to ice by the sub-zero temps. The night was strangely calm. Father Leon Wilkins (pictured, left, in the accompanying photo) had the circular drive leading to the church lined on both sides with paper bags holding burning candles in holders. The small flames flickered and sent dancing shadows throughout the bags, below, as the stars above did the same in the cold, clear Colorado air.

Orion rising over the eastern ridges in early evening meant winter was here in Rangely; By midnight at Christmas Eve, he would be overhead in the night sky, the three stars in his belt being hard to miss. Nearby, Sirius, the dog star, would be following close behind in the constellation Canus Major, the Big Dog. Sirius was the brightest star in the sky (as seen from earth) and would be overhead at noon instead of midnight during the height of summer -- it was thought in ancient times that its heat, added to that of our sun, gave the hot temps of August, thus the term, "dog days of summer". But not at midnight in September.

The night was silent in Rangely before the service, just as it had been in Bethlehem so many centuries ago...