In church this week, Reverend Bill talked about the season of Advent that the Christian calendar is now starting. Four Sundays, four weeks of waiting, four weeks of joy and light and decor and shopping (ha!, he laughed too) before the birthday celebration of Christmas.
But, he pointed out, Advent was not always a joyous time. In other traditions especially it was, and still is, a season of deep darkness. A season of waiting and of wanting, of hunger. A season of wondering if the light, the abundance, the spring, will ever return - when each morning dawns later and each night comes sooner, and we feel so, so tired.
Having three pregnant friends around me, I thought, it's also a season of not-knowing. (Yes, every season is one of not-knowing in this life, but especially when you're waiting for a baby to come and you can't say, oh, "three more weeks," or "one more Friday!" and instead you just have to wait. And wait. And wait. Or sometimes, it comes too soon, and that's anxiety-inducing as well.)
The waiting season is not always joyous. It's not always easy.
I find that I am bringing more lights and more holiday decoration and even sneaking a few more cookies into my home, as talismans against the dark; as hopeful offerings to the one who I hope will tip us back the other way on the night of the Solstice.
It's not easy to remain motivated at work, or energetic in Zumba class, or to get up and write at 6:30 AM each morning (guess which thing has been canceled until the Solstice takes place...)
So taking the wise council of Reverend B, I'm trying hard to embrace the dark season. This means I'm sleeping a little later, and heading to bed a little earlier. I'm making a little tea and toast (right now, in fact). I'm letting a few responsibilities slide, and I'm scheduling a little more time with friends - I'm pushing myself away from the solitude of my own little hearth (which is blazing with gas-powered fire every chilly, dark night!).
And while I hope, and believe, that the light will return soon, I'm letting myself be a little afraid, too, that it won't. For that's the real darkness, and I'm letting in a little, as part of a rounded, full year of this life.