Today is the first full day of winter when the sun starts moving ever slightly north along the horizon. It’s all about the light, the return of the light on the shortest, darkest day of the year, at least in this northern hemisphere. It gives me renewed hope every year, that we will see the light, understand the meaning of light, appreciate and be grateful for it and thus be enlightened.
First light, as the horizon lightens with the light that comes ahead of the sunrise, often has a glow that is enough to see what can be done without any artificial light. I remember saying on occasion, we will sail at first light. There was enough light to see to either cast off or pull the anchor and be on our way. Now, as we travel in our land yacht, what we call our home on wheels, I can see enough to unhook the water and electric connections, if we’re in such a campground, or even hook up the toad (car that is towed) if that’s necessary.
Winter for most people in these northern climes may not represent days of light or growth but each day there is just a little more, encouraging, pushing on toward Spring. There is underground activity as well. That is why fall planting is recommended for bulbs, trees and bushes. Roots have time to establish before spring when active top growth begins. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.
From the top of a mountain, at 10,000 feet yesterday, to celebrate solstice (and to go skiing) I looked out at what looked like a frozen, snow-covered landscape. I thought about the events of the past week in Newtown, Connecticut (and elsewhere) when people faced some of the darkest, coldest, most chilling days of their lives. I hoped and prayed for some way for them and for all of us, to see the light, to have hope for the days ahead. I remembered Bill Coffin, former chaplain at Yale, saying it was always darkest just before light.
May this winter of our discontent, the title of John Steinbeck’s last novel and from Shakespeare’s Richard III recede into the past such that we know this awful time of unhappiness is truly in the past and we can find the way forward toward the light, the light of hope, the light of Spring and something more eternal than transient, more renewing and encouraging.
The eastern sky now looks like it is on fire, brilliant orange suggesting warmth in the midst of cold temperatures, truly a paradox. And soon, the sun will rise once more to present the gift of a new day, in the light. Let’s live as fully as we can in the light, this day and all the rest that we are given.
7:05 AM Mountain Time, December 22, 2012, Abiquiu, New Mexico