We approach the winter solstice. With less and less daylight, I feel myself craving sunshine lately. I celebrate any sunny hour, and I try to make an excuse to go out and be in it. I do this slyly too, somewhat embarrassed to be so creaturely after all. This is not terribly professional.
But sunrise seems so late, and sunset comes so early, I notice that other lights are turning my head. Any light will do. I have never taken courage from Christmas tree lights, or candles. Candles seem so brave this year! Darkness encroaches, and these small, winking lights join our whispering, our conviction that something brighter must be on the way.
At a recent Advent service I had the chance to walk silently to the center of a spiral, a string of lights wound around fir branches on the floor of a dark room. I carried an unlit candle, a symbol of the darkness in me, my concerns, my griefs. At the center of the spiral was a small candle. I borrowed that flame and I turned around. Now I was a light bearer.
I noticed that evening how the light encouraged me. Candles lit by friends and strangers, the lights on the floor--all this seemed like a bright conspiracy. It helped that my glasses are so terminally scratched. On the grey, weak sun days, it hardly matters what state my poor lenses are in. But on this dark night, the small lights twinkle and shine, brightening beyond their power to do so, just because of my need and my poor vision.
The longest night is upon us, but we need not fear the deepest dark. We can carry our own light out into the dim days. We can continue on in generosity. We can celebrate with friends and family and strangers and share our small light, assured that we are not alone, and that the darkness does not have the final word.