Last week was a whirlwind that ended with the rainiest day in a decade. Yup – we were looking for an ark to take us home.
December is a wild card around here. Some years we get rain, some years snow, and some years the sun is shining bright as we move into winter. But darkness is a real thing up here in the Pacific Northwest. This year I have been very aware of the darkness and it has come to rest smack on top of any ideas about Christmas celebrating. I have searched for a response to the question, “Are you ready for Christmas?” that isn’t snarky. I end up just been saying yes. But I’m not sure what it means to be ready. The tree is up. There are gifts and lights and Christmas music (thanks to my husband). But there is also that sliver of darkness that comes from the losses of this past year. And I haven’t known what to do with that sliver.
On Wednesday, we had a Longest Night service at church, an evening to sit with an understanding that this season is not all jingle bells and joy for many people. I picked up the program and read this:
In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
“The Uses of Sorrow” by Mary Oliver, from Thirst, 2007. Beacon Press.
This morning I have been reading and thinking. It’s good to recognize the darkness in this season of twinkle lights. I am looking forward to hearing our little person sing at church this morning, to Christmas Eve, probably my favorite night of the year, to a quieter Christmas day, and to a few dry days that will get me outside.
If there is a sliver of darkness lingering at the edges in your life, I just want to say, go ahead, pay attention to it. Look for the the gift.