penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

Wait for it…

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I was visiting a different church recently while I was out of town – one that the extended family attends.

The Minister was giving a pre-Advent sermon – speaking about a struggle between the secular, commercial side of Christmas and the Christian side of Christmas.

For many years now, I have seen this time of year as a spiritual struggle – not necessarily between the mall and the almighty but as a rage against a more primal darkness. 

On our side of the world it is physically dark at this time of year.  In November, we turn the clocks back and by 4 pm feel as though we have hit midnight with a bang.  As the sun seems to disappear bit by bit, I begin to empathize with those that suffer from seasonal disorder. 

I note each day as I wake in darkness, make my way home in darkness, counting the stars in the sky, counting the days until Christmas, when I instinctively feel the Earth tilting its way back.  Every January evening I feel I am running towards the sun.

Are we really all that different from our ancestors who lit fires to keep the dark at bay?

In the last eleven years, each December I step gingerly around the memory of three black autumn months.  They are kept wrapped in a box, rarely opened, yet easily seen from the top most corner of my mind.  Each day, they are always there, mostly ignored, never forgotten.  They contain planes flying into buildings. Over and over and over again.  There are months of difficult work – trying to fix it so planes can never do that again.  Overtime.  Stress.  Then, on December 9, a loss so profound it was difficult to comprehend. I still don’t understand it.  A beautiful person, my cousin, murdered.  Someone so full of life, already so helpful in the community, someone who would have made a difference for the world.

Christmas didn’t exist that year. Snuffed out. Flame pinched like a guttering candle.

Each of my children were born in winter.  I nursed them through dark months, waking many times in the night and early morning.  Four a.m. seemed to be a popular time for them.  What kept me going through those gloomy days, when it was difficult to venture outside, were the Christmas lights neighbours left on – often all night long.  They were like a beacon against darkness – they helped me feel like I was less alone.  They started guiding me back towards hope.

Now each year, I look forward to seeing the lights.  They are probably my favourite part of Christmas. Our family goes for walks around the neighbourhood to see who has the most lights, and we count how many houses have lights on them.

These are the lights of our community.  Each winter they start me on the path towards the light the end of the tunnel – the spring always worth waiting for.

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Written by pennyinacastle

December 12, 2012 at 3:10 am

Posted in Random thoughts

Tagged with ,

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