January 16, 2021
For the first time in my life, I have a “Winter Tree” in my home. After removing the Christmas ornaments, I felt a deep yearning for light and more light and was resistant to taking down the tree. A friend of mine suggested that I replace the ornaments with snowflakes to make the tree seasonal, which I did. Since it rarely snows here, the Winter Tree reminds me to focus on both Light and Beauty.
I was rather disappointed and a bit surprised, then, when I walked into my den shadowed in morning to discover that an entire strand of lights had gone out—100 tiny bulbs of darkness. Was this some kind of omen? It’s easy to miss the light in the unease of plague and politics.
I lit a fire, settled in my chair with a cup of coffee, and evaluated the tree. How could this happen when I was relying so much on the beauty now marred by the swath of shadow across the bottom of the tree? What to do when the light goes out? I could have just let it be. Most of the lights still shone, and there is a metaphorical reality about the presence of shadows and light in life.
But I wanted more light. All the light.
I admit it took an effort on a cold, lazy Saturday morning to give up my coffee, my place by the fire, my personal musings, and climb the stairs to the frigid attic. It took some effort to rummage through decorations that I had already packed away for next year in hopes of discovering a string of white lights. It took desire to unravel those lights and then wind them in and out of snowflakes suspended on the tips of limbs. It was all worth it as the glow returned.
This ordinary experience led me to wonder about all those who believe that the light has gone out—those fearful about the new administration and those concerned about the previous one; those I know who are burying spouses who died from Covid-19 and those anxious about whether they will contract Covid before they receive their vaccinations; those whose hearts literally ache from missing the fellowship of family, grandchildren, friends, and those who have given up caring or given in to despair. These lights also shine for them, especially for them.
Sometimes it takes intentionality and desire to stir in us before we can relight our lamps. Sometimes it takes perseverance and faith. Yet the smallest match can illuminate the darkest room, and a chilly attic becomes a small inconvenience for the reminder that darkness can only hide; it can never win.