Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Filling the Darkness

Every year I am presented with a similar challenge during the winter months: How can I make the long, dark evenings feel as full and vibrant as those of the summer months? Certainly there will be less activity-- more quiet, more introspection, more time huddling indoors. That is the gift of the season: stillness. But too often stillness morphs into emptiness, loneliness, despair. We even give names to this lack of substance: seasonal affective disorder, depression. Names to a very real experience of feeling that something is lacking, that our sunny full days have disappeared into darkness.

I am still trying to cultivate a love for this season, for the simplicity it ushers in, for the way that the cold sends us into our hearths to light a fire. We make more of a "to do" of dinner in these months, spending longer around the table, having an official dessert course. And I make sure to get outside with the girls for as long as possible during the daylight-- one or even two hours-- which makes spending an evening inside feel a little more "right."

I realized that there is a beautiful wisdom to the fact that here in Virginia, the most holiday-filled time of the year falls during the darkest months. We fill the cold emptiness with a silent hope, with quiet preparation and aromatic baking. Those of you who know me well may have noticed that I have been filling my own heart and mind with a craftiness that is uncharacteristic of me. And a certain joyful member of our family has filled her own time to mastering the art of crawling this past week-- certainly a change of seasons in our family life (can you say babyproofing?). We seem to take up more household projects during the winter than in the summer-- I know there is along "to do" list that I am already dreaming of completing. And we are much more likely to have guests over for supper during these months-- small and large alike. But no matter how busily we try to weave a little cocoon for ourselves this season, the facts remain the same; it is cold, it is dark, the trees are empty. Our activities do not change this. And maybe there is a certain beauty and wisdom in such scarcity.

How do you pass your winter months? How do you fill the darkness?


Sherri @ Design2Shine said...

This is such a WELL written post Hun. And it spoke to me. The first two months (Nov and Dec) are easily filled with holiday activities, craftiness of making homemade gifts, baking. Then brings about Jan thru March....stillness. Emptiness. Cold. Darkness. I will still have crafts to keep me busy. I plan to read some. Wrap myself lovingly in a blanket and enjoy the quiet. As a mom with older children, it has taken me years to savor the quiet. I'm so grateful I've learned to relish it in. Drink it in and 'rest' my spirit in the stillness.

Adele said...

Thanks for your perspective, Sherri. It's always so nice to hear your voice here. And yes, books! How could I have forgotten. There is wisdom in your words.