A small light in a big darkness

Today is my annual so-low-that-down-is-up day–I blog about it every year (here in  2010, 2011, 2012, 2013). The day when we have the least amount of light, and the most amount of darkness.  The day that launches a time when the days will only have more light than the day before. More light is coming…just a little bit more each day, but it’s going in the right direction. It’s a day of strange hope for me.

I love sunshine.  It is vital for our mental health–as essential to our bodies as food and water. I love long evenings of light where scenic walks by the river can be enjoyed late into the evening.

The darkness of winter feels dark in every way–a heaviness, almost a sadness envelops as I leave for work before it is fully light, and it is already dusk as I drive towards home at the end of the day.

I love the turning point of today…that there will be more light tomorrow than today, and even more light the day after.  The turn of the calendar towards more light has me feeling…well…lighter. 🙂

However, I am starting to realize that I am developing a reluctant and tentative friendship with the darkness. Well…friendship might be overstating it–though I hope to one day get there.

Let’s call it a hesitant and cautious relationship with the dark…even this last statement suggests I have come a long way.

I have this passion for candles.  I light them most every day in the winter. I love a candle lit room for visiting or for sitting in the quiet. Truly one of the perks of winter. I don’t really light candles so much in summer…cuz they don’t really have much of an effect when it is bright out until late into the evening.

And it got me to thinking about how much I like little dancing points of light in the midst of darkness.

The beauty of a candle is only clearly apparent when it is seen in stark contrast to the darkness.

Years ago, the first Christmas my family found ourselves minus the husband-and-in-the-house father, we were left with starkly increased expenses and significantly reduced income.  Life was tight. That year, my Junior Tribe Members and I decided to forgo little stocking stuffers and give ourselves an evening of over-the-top fun with a lavishness that we hadn’t known for months. We would start with an evening out at a restaurant that might not be super fancy–but it was going to seat us and have us choose our food from a menu they gave us to read.  No fast food counter for us that day! Then we’d go to a $2.50 movie and then sledding.  The JTM’s were young then, but they had heard of the wonders of Starbucks hot chocolate and suggested that would be the perfect way to cap off the evening.  Even tho I secretly agreed with them, I suggested that hot chocolate at home would probably be great–decadence balanced with prudence…and understanding JTM’s that they were, they agreed.

However, the day before the Christmas Stocking Extravaganza Experience, as it has now come to be known, I got a letter in the mail.  The City of Winnipeg returned my parking ticket and my $20.00 cheque for an overdue parking meter a few weeks previous–I had been kept unexpectedly late with a meeting with a colleague at the university. I was guilty–I owed the money–and it was returned. No explanation why.  Just the returned cheque.

Do you know what it was like to have $20 show up in our lives that day?

Our joy was a little ridiculous.  It was an act of grace in our lives that had us giggle…and then instantly agree that this was divine intervention.  We toasted to the experience at Starbucks the next day…it would seem the baby born in Bethlehem knew that a vente Starbucks hot chocolate was just the thing to make an evening perfectly magical.

It was the gift that has become legendary.

We just celebrated our 10th annual Christmas Stocking Extravaganza Experience, and every year, we recall the miracle of the Christmas hot chocolate. Every year we cap off the night with the largest hot chocolate, remembering the first hot chocolate a decade ago.

The returned parking ticket and the uncashed cheque–it seemed a miracle at the time…it caught our attention in a dark time…and the beauty of the moment is something that captures our imagination still.

If that happened now–I’m not sure it would have registered on our radar.

There is something about the beauty of the small things that grabs our attention during dark times in ways that might not even be noticed in the light.

The dance between darkness and light will always remain— the stars and the moon will always need the darkness to be seen, Quote by C. Joybell C. Poster by Bergen and Assocaites Counseling in Winnipeg

The darkness provides for the contrast for a candle light of kindness.

It also has us appreciate when the sun comes up.

I love the sun. I truly do…I believe I appreciate it more given the dark winter months than if I lived at the equator.

I imagine I might take the sunshine of the day for granted if it shone 12 hours every day of the year.

There is a special beauty of the sun after a period of darkness.

Maybe that

There is a sunshine in my life that has given my life a special glow in the months of late.  A sunshine that takes my breath away and has me blink rapidly in its brightness.  A too-good-to-be-true sort of feeling that after years, has me gasping for breath in the new dawn of a special relationship. I feel like I am 17 again.  I feel my cheeks ache from smiling. Friends tell me I am a little giddy and I think they see me as sorta goofy about it all.

They may be right.

But y’know, there’s something pretty spectacular about the dawn when you’ve known a dark night. I think I have an appreciation for all things wonderful that I might not have had before I’d known the darkness.  There’s a richness and a delight in goodness–where the colours of life and light are perceived brighter and more beautiful than I would otherwise have seen.

So…go ahead and say I’m goofy and giddy…I am, delightedly so.  I know the light in a way I could never have known without the darkness–and so I happily own goofiness and giddiness.

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