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Friday, January 2, 2009

From the Dark Place

In the past few weeks we lost electricity several times. This loss of light has instantly put many things in perspective – first, how disturbing a sudden quiet and calm can be; how pleasant it becomes after a few candles are found and lit; and how much one’s focus, naturally, drifts towards wanting some time with friends… Once all electrically powered devices cease to function, the need for a warm circle of friends, for a good conversation, or for a great story grows stronger.

Spending a few hours in the dark also reminded me of the true meaning of this season – the time of short days, very dark and long nights, with cold quieting everything to suspension… time of multiple holidays, family visits, gift exchange, lots of food and partying.

I made this story for myself this winter:

Imagine, a long time ago people first noticed the changing of the seasons – this was probably because they were migrating from much warmer tropical climates, where there is not much difference between day and night length – and seasonal changes must have been a very frightening thing to experience. After a while, the elders began watching with much more attention, growing more and more concerned with the continuing shortening of the day light – until there came a point when no more change was noticeable and the time became still, quiet, cold, dark. Then, after a few days, they saw a few minutes of extra light push the darkness away. What a relief that was for everyone, to realize that the sun and life were returning, minute by minute extending the day, and reviving the life force in trees, soil, animals. The gain in daylight at first is so minute, that it takes several days to notice a change – and as a result, people felt the need to call in the sun, the life force, the creator during these dark ambiguous days – with food, libations, fires, lights, gatherings, and warm times with family. How else would you explain that in many parts of Europe the year’s turn/ the light’s return is celebrated for two weeks?; That traditionally there should be enough food stored in the house from the last year’s harvest to feed anybody and everybody for two weeks without much additional shopping or procurement?; That all of us, despite different life styles, health concerns, or creeds tend to put on a few extra pounds during these two weeks – as if there is some biological explanation for this, and not just unending feasting causing a heightened appetite.

While our bodies expand a little, our minds go inward, sleepy and dreamy. Wishes and resolutions are made out of this state of mind; and visions come while watching the fire, or swirling hot apple cider. Dreams of new gardens, home improvements, relationship healing, for making new friends, for restoring the health of oneself and the environment around us, for the continuous privilege of living a simple, happy, uncomplicated life in a warm house filled with a child’s laughter, with a beloved, with a few fruit trees to bear fruit and keep bees happy, with a peaceful sky, clean air and water, homegrown food, normal global climate, a multitude of birds and creatures sharing the bounty, in an unpolluted healthy world with its life force returning – out of a dark place.