According to the National Weather Service, the light of winter’s first day, December 21, was with us in these parts for nine hours and thirtyfour minutes, from sunrise at 7:41 a.m. to sunset at 5:15 p.m. That’s a minute longer than the span of sunrise-sunset the day before, on the 20th.
At this time of year darkness is a more insistent thing than the cold, and the days are short as a dream. Before people know it, it’s time to knock off and tread carefully to the car; winter brings caution to our gait, inspired by memories of a brother who stepped out to fetch the morning paper and ended in an emergency room with doctors binding his ankle with plaster.
Mornings, our hand crawls up the wall, a spider in search of the light switch. As darkness takes over, the span of Christmas-to-New Year holidays amplifies our season of light. It brings out the child in us, that brief, sweet moment when common things are once more uncommon, when our senses are keen with promise and hope.
The season has unrolled, its scroll of blessed events intimate and universal, personal and sacred. Wherever we look there is color, anticipation – here the enchantment in a single star and there, the silver scimitar of a southeastern moon. Common pots are full of treasure, all lights are beacons, every sound a chorus.
Miracles have come quietly, creeping into the human heart without any herald of trumpets until we are filled with their wonder and glory. The most miraculous of miracles are often those at our own fireside, or just outside the door, or across the table, or in the next room.
Wherever we look at this end of the year we see something that advertises the future or embraces the past. The view from the living room or the office is the same as always, but at this special time if can be shatteringly beautiful, as in a new appreciation of life, of the world around us.
The Weather Service tells us the days are longer already, our axis tilting. They bring more light through the day, and thoughts of a new affirmation in living, and of all that living can bring.
– JOHN MARSHALL