The Gift of Darkness

Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day. ~ Virginia Woolf

Well, it happened again last night. We lost power and were once again plunged into blackness. As if it were not already dark enough.  This time of year is challenging for those of us who live in northern climates. The days are hopelessly short and mostly gray. The sun-when it does come out-barely lasts a few hours. On Sundays, I have the opportunity to run later in the morning-about 8am. I look forward to running in the daylight.  I was particularly excited yesterday morning to see the sun come out.  But it did not last long at all. I ran for 75 minutes and then it disappeared about halfway through my jaunt. Oh well, steel-gray it is. I like to call this time of year Solstice Time.  By the time we turn back the clocks in November, Mother Earth has already begun to shift its axis. As Thanksgiving arrives, one can almost feel darkness’ descent upon us. We begin our seasonal hibernation. We become ensconced in our homes- cut off from the world-seeking the solace of “comfort food” and the steady stream of  television noise.

It is easy to lose sight (no pun intended) of what this time can give to us. In reality, the true darkness only lasts but a few weeks (at least where I live).  After the Winter Solstice, the days begin to get longer again if only in minute increments. I refuse to spend this short time complaining about the lack of light. Really, that would be wishing time away, and none of us can afford to do that.

So this season I am embracing the sunless world as best I can. As a runner, I need to pay close attention to the weather in order to plan my workouts efficiently. It is incredibly easy to roll over at 4:30 am and avoid dealing with the cold, black ice, or snow that may very well accompany the light less predawn hours. But once I take that first step-no honestly once I pass the first mile, who am I kidding(!!)-I have no regrets. The world is positively still.  Sometimes the moon is up and so, too, the stars (that is when it is really cold!).  I try to soak it all in as slowly, but surely the day begins to turn from a deep, deep black to a charcoal gray. Previous to this season, it seemed that a switch would suddenly turn on and it would be bright. No so now. The day is very monochromatic-gray, gray skies and black skeleton like trees. There is something starkly beautiful about the landscape.

I have noticed also that people seem to dress much like Mother Nature looks. It is as if we are all in a state of mourning! And while I do have my share of black in my wardrobe (it is slimming), this year things are very different. Purples, pinks  and outrageously deep tie-dye colors abound! No black winter jackets either. Red fleece, light blue, raspberry and plum are where it’s at. Plus my multicolored polka dot gloves! I like to the think my fashion sense stands in sharp contrast to the  dullness around me.

I want my new found attitude to be a foil for the moods of those around me. And I want it to be contagious! Getting out into the unlit day changes your very being. Your thoughts slow down; you become more observant (watch out for wildlife!) and even more prayerful.  I don’t even think of the day ahead of me. I let myself be in the moment- thinking of others during this time and send out my good intentions to them. And while I am in my moving mediation,  I am turning inward too; contemplating my place in the world and hoping that I am making it better somehow.

Lesson learned from last night (when the lights eventually came back on): the darkness never lasts forever as much as we worry that it will.

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