December 24, 2022
Each Fall I struggle as the days wane and the darkness comes earlier and earlier. After Thanksgiving, it is rare for me to get home from work before dusk and my daily walks become rushed or absent for a few weeks as I get caught up in the holiday bustle. I miss the sustaining light of Spring and Summer and the days when I am sure there will be daylight left afterwork for a long walk. Each weekend I have made a point of spending time outside. I will squeeze in a shorter walk bundled up or even take a walk on my lunch break at work to see a bit of sunshine on weekdays. This year I have tried to embrace the seasonal changes and have tried to be more conscious of the ways I can bring additional light into my life.
One of my favorite sources of light has been the candles in the windows, glimpses of Christmas trees inside my neighbor’s homes and the yard lights scattered over so many homes and businesses near where I live. I find myself taking different routes home from work or on my way to activities in the evenings just to catch a glimpse of different displays. I especially enjoy the lights I see reflected in a nearby lake or along the river.
Still, December 21 is a tipping point for me. The days are not noticeably longer for a few weeks after the solstice, but psychologically and possibly spiritually, I feel better knowing that the days are lengthening. I am ok with the cold weather, which never lasts terribly long in Virginia, and I feel hopeful that renewal and rebirth will happen in the coming months.
In the meantime, I have had a Christmas tree on my desk and in my living room since the weekend after Thanksgiving. Nick created a light display in our yard with a giant peace sign, a heart and a Hannukah tree in homage to our Jewish next-door neighbors and to welcome us home on the dark December evenings. This year, I bought a battery powered menorah and have enjoyed lighting it each night of Hannukah, as well. My favorite place I found light so far this season came from a chilly walk at Lewis Ginter botanical gardens in their Garden Fest of Lights. That was a magical experience!
This evening I will attend a candlelight worship at sunset. The ancient annual tradition of lighting candles in the dark is common in many houses of worship, for me it is one of the things I missed the most about the covid isolation years. We tried to participate on zoom with our own candles lit at home, but it just didn’t fill my spirit the same way. This year, we attended a Celtic candlelight service at my mom’s church last week and will enjoy the silent one at my meeting house this week. I can’t get enough light this year!
As the year winds down, there is much of 2022 I am glad to leave behind, but I will cherish the light I have been able to embrace in others I meet, my family and used to illuminate homes for the winter holidays. Already, I am plotting and planning for how to keep the light strong once the Christmas and Hanukkah decorations are packed away. My dear co-worker bought me a lantern with a winter snow scene on it that will illuminate my desk in January, February and beyond. Nick has amassed quite the collection of battery powered stings of light, so I will get creative with illuminating our mantle and living room and possibly other rooms of the house as well. Most importantly, I will seek the light in others I meet and as I take my walks.