Friday, December 6, 2013

Don't curse the darkness

"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." -Chinese proverb

This time of year is dark and cold for many of us.  For some the darkness and the cold are physical conditions, for others, they are metaphors.  This week has been darker and colder, in both respects, than I have been used to.  A cold front has blown in from Canada, and even the normally mild Bay Area is seeing hard freezes.  Ice, is something we are not accustomed to seeing or dealing with.  Last night, with a fever and cold, I rushed out, in the dark to bundle my sensitive plants against freezing temperatures, because they wouldn't survive the night without help.

On top of short, cold days, the last two weeks have been dotted with deaths and anniversaries of winter losses.  Edna Gordon and Nelson Mandela have both passed from this life and into the next, and both were beautiful lights in the darkness to me.  A news article about Paul Walker's life, not death, made me break down in tears this morning; I didn't know him or particularly like his films, but a story about his random act of kindness was touching and beautiful. A dear friend struggles each year with Thanksgiving, a day that will always remind her of her father's passing, and her pain is still fresh and consuming. As she tries to heal, my heart sometimes breaks for her, because there is nothing I can do for her.  My own great grandmother passed away in the break of storm front the night before Thanksgiving when I was 19.  Time has largely healed the wound, but the memory still stings a bit.  There is a little pang of sadness that touches the holiday when I remember that. Coming in a few day will be the anniversary of the tragic event s that happened in Newtown last year. It's one of those events that I know will live in my memory for a long time.

Darkness, the physical kind and the emotional, seeps into us quickly and makes warmth and light feel very far away.  This is how the winter blues can easily morph into something dangerous and soul stealing. We can be consumed by this, and let it lead us to despair and depression, or we can light our candles, make light, and embrace life with all the pleasures and pains that come with it.  I think those brilliant lights that we have loved, admired, and lost would rather us light candles at their passing than to curse the darkness, don't you?

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