December 21 is the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The longest night.
In Minneapolis, where I live, that means that there is only about 8 hours and 47 minutes of daylight.
We celebrated with friends over the weekend. Reconnected with some of our community after two years on the road. We walked up a snowy path and gathered around a fire at dusk, enjoying conversation, hot drinks and the warmth of the fire. When our toes got sufficiently cold, we retreated to the house where there was food and song, and an occasional recitation of poetry and verse.
We were encouraged by the words and wisdom of Mary Oliver, Elie Wiesel and Jethro Tull.
Elie Wiesel, the author and Holocaust survivor, reminded us that, “Even in darkness, it is possible to create light and encourage compassion.”
And I was reminded of how even a tiny light can illuminate a dark world.
At nine years old, I visited my first real cave, Lewis and Clark Caverns in Montana. At one point during the underground tour, the park ranger told us to hold still and prepare ourselves for the lights to be turned off.
It was total darkness. Absolute and disorienting. But then the ranger lit a single candle and we were all amazed at the amount of detail we could see from that small, solitary flame. He passed out more candles and the light spread until we could see one another and the world around us, in new ways.
In a sense, it’s what we try to do with A Peace of My Mind. We try to find that spark of hope. That little bit of light. The people who are trying to find creative solutions to our most complex challenges. We find that little bit of light and hold it up in the darkness so we can all see a little better.
We hope that the light spreads. That it can be a beacon for those who are lost. That it can help us to see one another more clearly.
Karen and I are in a bit of a transition these days. No longer on the road, but not yet settled. We are moving between friends who are good enough to share their home until we pick out a spot for ourselves.
In the St. Paul neighborhood where we are staying this week, the local college has wrapped an old oak tree in white lights. It’s gorgeous. I’ve driven by it a few times and last night in the cold and the snow, I stopped to take a picture. A mom and her child (I’m assuming) had wandered by to stand under it for a moment and take a picture of their own.
On this darkest day of the year, I hope you can take time to celebrate the light. Do what you can to reflect the light that is around you. And think about how to create a little light of your own.