The days begin to lengthen. A minute or two at a time on each end of the darkness. Just the promise is enough to lift sagging spirits and ease heavy hearts.
The sun owned the sky at the end of yesterday, so the light stayed even longer than it does on the heavy gray wet days that are the norm for our winters. The clouds press down to meet rising fog so that no light or even reflection of light shows through. Only shadows, and those go from kitten gray to coffin black. When the sun does break through, it melts much more than the frost on the ground.
As I do every year at the end of the long dark, in the first true sunlight of a dawning season, I had to resist throwing off every stitch of artificial cover to soak in as much of the promise and weak warmth as possible.
In more than five decades of winters, of living with the rhythm of falling into darkness and slowly rising back into the light, the dark never gets any easier to live with. The days of descent feel endless and suffocating, hopeless and sad. And the minute the ascent begins (I watch for the solstice on my calendar from Thanksgiving on) my heart begins to lift as well.
It's no accident that so many traditions celebrate the coming of Light during this time. Knowing I'm not alone in the darkness provides just enough comfort to make it bearable. Sharing the birth of new light feels like family in the purest sense possible.
Light comes in so many forms: A treasured friend who truly understands and sees. A wide smile shared with a homeless person. A new friend who shares a heartbreaking story from a heart glowing with love and acceptance. The innocent untamed spirit of a young child. An increasingly rare and magical day spent with a friend being dragged further and further into the shadows of mental illness. Easy laughter and good food shared with new friends. Family willing to set aside differences and hurts so that a new tradition of love and acceptance can be created. A husband who cleans up his wife's huge baking mess in the kitchen when she's not looking. A virtual network of friends who are always there to offer love and hope and words (oh the words!) that are their very own form of light.
Light in such abundance is made bright and reflected clearly in the longer days and bright promise of a sun that always returns.
Namaste. May your celebration of Light fill your heart with an overflowing abundance of love, joy and peace.
photo from Flickr