It’s one of my favorite times of year, when the light gives way to the darkness. Growing up in Brent’s Cove, Newfoundland, without electricity, cars, or TV, it was even more profound. As children we were in bed by eight o’clock, nine at the latest in the summer, and with that one-half hour special time in Newfoundland, the light easily lasted until nine or so during those summer months.
As winter clocked in, and the hands moved back, the darkness would sweep in at four. On went the oil lamps and maybe a Tilley lamp for its extra brightness. For children that meant we were up even after the lights went on, a novelty, a feeling of being a bit adult.
Of course the only light in the cove would be those lamps, and they barely cast a glow more than a few feet out the windows. Such a rare occasion where clouds had gone missing, the view of looking up in a crisp autumn sky allowed a few of the stars that would put Disney World to shame.
The kitchen would be where we all gathered: supper, schoolwork, prayers, the radio, even bedtime stories were told in the kitchen. All the other rooms would be chilly if not cold, as the only heat was the kitchen stove, and the only other room to get any heat was the funnel room directly above, from the hot smoke as its moved up the funnel and out through the roof. There was an oil stove in the back of the house, but that was only lit on the coldest of days. Each of us had a hot water bottle to be tossed under the sheets a few minutes before bed time.
All of the windows were single pane, and Jack Frost left many a painting on them as the kitchen fire died down. But while the fire lasted, the yellow light of the kitchen bathed us all in its glow, and the wood stove drove back the whistle of the winds attempting to creep in.
Curtains were drawn, even though there were no neighbors so close as to even need curtains; yet, it meant the family was tucked in and cozy, as we indeed where.
And so I love going into the darkness, even to this day. Yes, it also holds the holidays and the holy days, the celebration, the sharing, the merriment that is so special to that time of year.
This time of year reminds me that we are indeed the sum of our experience, the places we have been, the people we have known, and the choices we have made. Going into the darkness is a time to reflect on what our life has meant.
I looked out this morning, my dished done, my coffee made by six, ready to slide the door open and allow the dogs to wander about as I enjoy my first few sips. The darkness stopped me. Yes, it was an overcast day, and so it had snuck up on me. It gave me pause to think what this dark season might offer.
I asked the universe for a favor. Please allow everyone to at least once find serenity and peace as they go forth into the darkness.