Hope arrived Monday afternoon.

It came to Wallowa County in the form of a box containing 100 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

What does the vaccine’s arrival signify?

Hope for an end to the pandemic? Hope for a return (soon) to normalcy? Hope that COVID-19 can indeed be beaten back?

Yes, all of these things, and more.

Time, clearly, will tell if the vaccine, which was administered beginning Tuesday afternoon to those frontline workers who want it, is indeed the solution to the pandemic that has ravaged the nation and the world for nearly a year now.

Some are hopeful. Some are optimistic. Others are pessimistic.

The Chieftain editorial board definitely will be watching in the coming weeks and months as health care workers, then the most susceptible, then, eventually, the rest of society has the option to take this shot.

One also can’t help but wonder at the timing of the vaccine’s arrival — is it coincidence? Or is something more at play?

The vaccine, a proverbial ray of light at the end of a tunnel of darkness, showed up on the day of the winter solstice.

The winter solstice, of course, is the longest night of the year. But this year, that solstice just so happened to be the day the Christmas Star arrived — a bright star, seen for the first time in centuries, caused by the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn.

Another instance of light in the darkness.

Many believe it was a similar alignment 2,000 years ago that formed the star which led the Magi to Christ after His birth.

And, of course, Christmas — the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus and the hope He brings — is Friday.

His coming into the world is a third instance of light coming into the darkness.

Christmastime and the new year is viewed as a season of hope. Of hope for what the next year will bring. Of hope for what the arrival of the Baby in a manger means.

Even in what has been a dark year, one that mercifully ends in eight days, there have been rays of light.

And in that, there is hope.

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