To Know the Dark, by Wendell Berry
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
I know I am not the only one who has to think about how many Decembers we’ve been through since Covid changed everything. I started out this month by saying…”was that two years or was it three years ago, when Covid hit?” Everything in life suddenly turned upside down. Now, we have the Omicron variant circulating the globe, and we are starting the last month of yet another year, wondering if and when the Terrible Times will be over, or is this just the beginning of the End. And, it’s the darkest month in the year.
So, we’ve lit up the darkness in our house with twinkling lights on the mantle, the stained glass fairy window with tiny white lights in the pantry, and the Grand Fir Christmas tree Don cut, ablaze with both little white lights and colored ones, and all the sparkly ornaments we’ve collected through many years. Actually, the tree was decorated and then undecorated the next morning, when we realized you really can have too many lights. It snowed for the first time, off and on all day yesterday, and we listened to holiday music while we decorated together. And, after dinner, we started our Christmas tradition of watching the holiday movies we love. They’ve re-mastered, or re-colored, the classic Charlie Brown Christmas movie–maybe it’s the new TV we finally bought after so many years. Who doesn’t love seeing all the characters skate on the pond with Snoopy creating mischief in his fantasy of greatness. We really love it–and the whole holiday series (who can watch a football game without thinking of that scene in the Thanksgiving one where Lucy pulls away the football from an unsuspecting Charlie Brown). We remember all the years we sat in the Honea’s living room with the little grandkids, watching each and every season together.
It’s our wedding anniversary today–we got the calculator out and think it’s number 34. For years, we’ve traveled to places we love for fine dining and a city Christmas experience, but, in these years of scary travel, we stay home. We share our cards over coffee in the dark morning, when we are up hours before there is light in the sky. They are always special and each of us tries to out-do the other with some beautiful heart graphics. This year, my card to Don had blue winter trees covered in snow, and I mentioned how I guess They really meant it with that line in the wedding vows “in sickness and in health…”. After there was some crying, I opened his which had a dazzling pop-up of a smiling moon and golden stars and the line, “I love you to the moon and back”. (He said he almost wrote “Alice”. ) We’re watching our absolute favorite movie tonight, Trains, Planes and Automobiles, in which we cannot stop laughing. Maybe the leftover chili served over baked potatoes will be dinner. We light the darkness, however we can. Next stop, is the Winter Solstice. And, then Christmas, when most of my family is coming–hopefully! So, we made it to December again, in all the darkness, and the season will turn, bringing new light in its time. In all of this uncertainty, on that we can depend.