Finding light in winter darkness

Fasten your seat belts: we will soon be reaching the nadir of our descent into yearly darkness.

Fasten your seat belts: we will soon be reaching the nadir of our descent into yearly darkness, harrowing grey landscapes, preparing ground for growth.

Every year is like a test to see how low can you go, and what dredging the dark brings to the surface. Perhaps a pearl of great price. Perhaps not, perhaps nothing.

But hey, even a good thing isn’t as good as nothing, according to zen.

‘Tis the season of sunlight which has waned into pricelessness, every sliver worth nearly three times its cousin, the insouciant summer excess that brings heat, thirst, nakedness, sunburn.

The careless days of the grasshopper are long behind us, his locust corpse buried beneath heaps of snow. In this gloaming the littlest glimmer is a beacon of promise and hope.

‘Tis the glitter storm season of light fractured and reflected in gaudy but effective sequins, and refracted down through the depths of the mind. (There’s a reason behind War and Peace: Russian winters have spawned novels that are the literary version deep sea diving of the soul, vast, confusing and murky.)

Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas: hark, all herald the victory of hope over despair and whisper the promise that spring will return, the sun will rise again tomorrow, if only for six hours and then buried behind kilometres of clouds.

As darkness crowds out daylight, we gather inside sparks of light, sheltering them in the embrace of celebratory good cheer, drink and feasting – complete with fragile paper crowns that coax and kindle our own small flames.

And around a table, kith and kin weave ribbons of laughter and love to cradle and carry every one and all through to the returning light, with presence…and presents!

Unpacking gifts is a mix of affection, obligation, sweetness, debt and interdependence, an elliptical dance of partners near and far, close and distant. But true brightness illuminates from within through the darkest moments, the seed of the heart which may be dormant in times of coldness, but is always there even in midwinter’s bleakness, ready to bloom at any moment.