I love December dark.
I am aware that most people do not. The summer long, with days alit, and crickets chirping, the days of June intimate warmth and freedom. Neighborhood baseball, my friends and I would play in the street in front of our houses, running imaginary bases, and pulling to the side when cars ambled towards us. We’d start sweating and throw off our shirts and play in the sun and hose and sprinkler. And when dark came, which it would, characteristically late, we’d play nighttime games. Those days – in Florida where I grew-up — irrigation systems included metal sprinklers that stuck-out of the ground shin-high. We knew where most were and would dodge them, but sometimes we’d forget, knock our shins, cry out, and continue chasing.
Summer, with fireworks and picnics, swimming and fireflies. Frenetic and happy running about, and I think too of red checkered plastic tablecloths. Hamburgers and hot dogs. Yes, most people favor the light of summer, as though one might be able to find the path better along the journey with longer light.
Only, there is something holy about enfolding dark, as the Canticle calls it.* I feel myself enfolded by winter dark, rising long before the sun. Quiet and alone, I sit in the same chair I’ve sat in for twenty years, in front of the same fire, offering prayers and thoughts, angsts and longings. Often wondering to myself, Does God hear me? And just as often knowing the answer as soon as I’ve felt the question.
I once heard a news piece about so many large cubical houses being built these days. Lots of rooms, and large ones at that. Open floor plans with caverns for space – areas intended for families and parties, for socializing and connecting, and how wonderful that people offer their homes so generously as altars for communion. I prefer instead rooms that drape my shoulders like a blanket, intimate rooms that warm while darkness enfolds me. These rooms are small yet full of a type of grace, where two of us – myself and God, or myself and another person – can sit as though the only two individuals alive – and share our intimacies.
Summer is for expanding outward, for leaving home and staking claims. Winter is for drawing within and remembering, for abiding loneliness and sharing hope. Summer is the extrovert season while winter is the introvert season.
Blessed be the Lord God, who has given long nights for deeper contemplation.
And so it is, as the holy moment of Solstice passes once again, marked by the birth of the Christ, we lean into the warmth of love. For God eternal has chosen to become God bounded.
*BCP 89: Glorify the Lord, O nights and days, O shining light and enfolding dark.