Call the Darkness Light

night skyThe  solstice is past, but the days are still so short  many of us are traveling to and from work in darkness even now. I think this was the first year I really “got” why so many people deck their houses with  lights – sometimes even before they’ve polished off the Thanksgiving turkey.

They don’t do it because they feel ‘hurried into’ the season by retailers. They do it to lift their spirits.

So this year I tried doing it too, and wonder of wonders, stringing little lights did indeed help me beat back that shudder of dread I feel when the darkness comes to cloak us.

In the classic Isaac Asimov/Robert Silverberg story Nightfall, the action takes place on a planet whose sky holds as many as six suns at a time, where, at 2,000 year intervals, a mysterious event occurs that causes the land to be enveloped in darkness for the first time in anyone’s memory.

And yes, one ‘fringe’ religious sect teaches that it’s God’s judgment that brings the dark, along with the subsequent appearance of these fearsome things called ‘stars’ that rain down fire to destroy all of civilization. Few believe this though, because each time, the conflagration destroys all records.  

The reader learns only as the story unfolds that it’s the people who are responsible, because as creatures who have never in their lives experienced darkness, they panic and set the awful fires themselves, for the light.

All during December I wondered why this tale kept coming into my mind. Only in the last few days did I see it is because that same kind of wild and unreasoning fear lives also in me.

Over the past six months, we have had many ‘systems’ problems in our house, as first the washing machine died, then the dryer, then the fridge. The shower pan in the upstairs bathroom also failed so that for days on end water dripped down into the room below it.

We fixed all these problems, but not before I had expended a world of energy whining about them.

Sometime in there, social media allowed a faraway friend to take note of all this and sit down and send me this message:

Terry, I am sorry to hear about your refrigerator and the discomfort you have been having. I know just how bad it has been for you. We have seen similar things happen here. Our bathtub legs fell off while one of the girls was in the tub, the bathroom sink got clogged up and one of the refrigerator doors broke so for over a month our food was constantly spoiling.

“Thank God things are back to normal now – somewhat, LOL! The roof is still leaking but God is on that too. Remember, you are in my prayers.”

With what shame did my cheeks burn as I read this note from a woman who, virtually alone, raised up her own three children, sent them off to college, and then took in three teenaged girls to whom she has given love and care in full measure.  

The one who was in the tub when its legs broke off was pregnant when she came into her family and is expecting her baby this month, a fact that only gladdens my friend’s heart, because – as she will tell you – God is on that too.

And there it all is in a nutshell: One camp of people sees the approaching dark and panics, while the other just calls it sweet night and waits in trust for the light’s return. I think in this new year I’m going to try moving from that sad first camp into the second.



18 thoughts on “Call the Darkness Light

  1. So, I will neither light the candle nor curse the darkness. I will sit in the glow of my low voltage, “kinda green” LED display monitor….and be enlightened by your glowing words! 🙂

  2. Ah, it is a journey! And we are all on it. Only not everyone realizes it, knows that they can be interactive, “choice-ful” about their part in it! As a wise friend used to tell me—“the soul knows no time, we are all right where we’re supposed to be”, which I took to mean, don’t beat myself up, because when I can, I will. (Which is quite different than what I always told my own niece and nephew—just because you can doesn’t mean you should 🙂 . You and your “joys and trials” help me (and I’d go so far as to assume others, too) to “wake up”, take notice, think, look around, see if we can be being more “choice”-ful. In a real way, your blog is like the proverbial lamp unto our feet! Wishing you the best in the New Year, and that chaos and techno-burnout get blown out by showers of blessing and grace!

  3. Like I said a year or two back, the thing about Night is how much light there is in it, Christmas or not. It’s a bit like yin and yang – in this world there’s nothing that doesn’t carry a sliver of its opposite within.

  4. Terry, it’s incredible the effect your writing has on me! I can empathize, weep, laugh and smile as you share such touching stories and in your way, remind me of humility. Second eye surgery seems to have caused a problem and I had an emergency doctor visit on Sunday and he faxed all his test results to my surgeon and told him to see me tomorrow, NOT on the 21st. Gotta tell ya, though, those young doctors are sooooooo cute! Yes, I can see that much. And for whatever reason, maybe age, I am emboldened enough to flirt with those doctors and have fun. I told my surgeon my hearing ain’t so great either but I did hear him say “oops” during the surgery. He said it was because a glass of water tipped over and soaked his sock, not too comfy when the OR had some problems with heat. But I did a pretend glare at him and said, “Is that right, Curt? Show me the bloody sock!” He’s young – he may not remember Curt Schilling. My son took me for the emergency visit on Sunday and then out for lunch with him and his girlfriend. Whatever the doctor put in my eye, it kept leaking and blurring my sight so much, that along with the dilated eyes, the guys in the restaurant must have thought I was “giving them the eye” what with my winking and blinking. I do not understand why the vision after the first surgery was great, just a little faint for closeup but after the second in the other eye, it has been very difficult. Using readers that if I happen to glance up from them perched and pinching the lower part of my nose, it feels as if I am going to fall out of my chair. I don’t feel sorry for myself and am grateful I can see the humor in some of it and can see, as you did, that others have some problems much worse. ❤

  5. I have two choices for everything I encounter, love or fear. I have nothing to lose by chosing the former every time.

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