On winter solstice’s night, our many of our neighbors lit lanterns and candles, and the neighborhood glowed with firelight on the snow. I know many people in my little town attribute religious or spiritual meaning to the solstice. But for me, walking through our neighborhood on this darkest night, it felt like people were holding out a light for each other as if to say “Hang on a little longer. Day will come.”
It did my heart good. Winters have been hard for me since I moved to Upstate New York. I’m accustomed to the Texas sun: big, bright, and always plenty of it. Here in the north, I can go days without seeing the sun come from behind the clouds.
Saturn and Jupiter aligned on the solstice, but we couldn’t see the moonlight behind those clouds. The “Christmas Star” only happens every 800 years and we missed it because of the same old clouds we get nearly every day. I can’t think of a better analogy for the monotony of winter, of this year.
And what a year it has been. For many, eventful with the worst kind of events. For me and my family, it has been a crushing sameness. Home, all day, every day. No ventures the Library or playgrounds, no Science Center play museum, no meeting up with friends to watch trains. We stay home, and on Saturdays we go for hikes.
On this longest night, the darkness of this year pressed in on me. The lights I saw were not ones from heavens, the miracle of rare events, but the ordinary kindness of neighbors.
God is in the heavens, even when I don’t see him acting, I know that he is there full of love and grace. Though I cannot see the light of his face, I can praise him for the ordinary graces in the dark.