December Darkness

We are living in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, a time my friend refers to as “the holiday purgatory.”

This Christmas I am struck all over again by the joy of young children. Children so easily state what they want from life. Their desires, at a young age, are often pure and simple. They trust the universe will follow through. Their eyes and hearts overflow with light. My nephew was gifted a bunch of balloons. He looked up at the simple gift with wonder and delight. It is harder for adults to articulate what we want from life. We are hardened, a bit, by our own distrust and insecurities. The memory of dreams disappointed haunt a little too close. Christmas this year, was God’s reminder to me of what children already know. I am loved. I matter. My dreams matter. God is here. There is light inside of me.

Photo:  Flickr user likeaduck
Photo: Flickr user likeaduck

This Christmas I am also struck by the darkness. I had forgotten how cold Minnesota can get. I laugh at my phone, which sends me weather advisories every day, as if the core of my being needs a reminder to stay inside, safe from the wind and bitter cold. The cold binds us. We turn to despair, thinking the light has left. My friend warned me as he turned the channel to the Oakland Raiders football game, “It’s going to be tough to see the sunshine.” Surprisingly, it was. As much as I love the snow of Christmas, something deep inside of me longed to feel the sunshine I saw on the screen on my bare forearms. Instead, I wrapped my scarf around my tighter. Alpha and Omega. We are told to make New Year’s resolutions, to reflect on last year and look forward to next year. We hear that we are not good enough. We have to be better. Next year has to be better. The joy of children remind us not to. They want to play now. Instead of looking forward and back, instead of striving for more, we can relish in what we already have in front of us right now. The moment has a gift to offer. The darkness of December surrounds us so that we must turn inward to find light in ourselves and each other. It is there. We can sit in the present moment and be enough.

In Minnesota, we reach the apex of the darkness in December. There are months of cold remaining, but we are journeying toward the light.

Published by Ellie Roscher

Ellie Roscher is the author of How Coffee Saved My Life, and Other Stories of Stumbling to Grace. She holds a master’s degree in Theology/Urban Ministry from Luther Seminary and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

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