Sunday, December 21, 2008
As if to recognize that the Dark had once again lost its yearly campaign to swallow up the world, the clouds parted and the sun returned to the sky. Today is the Winter Solstice, and although in fact it will be a while yet before DC days do truly lengthen, the weather is conspiring in a symbolic celebration.
Today is also the first night of Chanukah, a festival commemorating two more victories against the Dark. One was a historic victory, and the holiday is viewed as a celebration of freedom. The other was a victory of faith over destruction, when a tiny amount of oil, enough to keep the reclaimed Temple's eternal light burning for but one day, lasted the 8 days it took to bring back a new supply.
Every culture has its stories of the triumph of light over darkness, and the holidays long pre-date the excuses we ascribe to them. There is only one story. Light is dying away, and along with it the hope that it will ever return. We know it did last year, and the year before, and the year before that, but still, faced with soul-strangling grey, it is hard to believe the sun will ever return.
And yet it does.
Today, it did.
I observed the solstice by going outside. I felt compelled to leave the house, where I tend to silently cower over dark weekends, barely speaking except to the cats. I drove the few minutes to a short old street of antique shops, wandered the sidewalks, stopped in my favorite stores, bought a book of poetry, chatted about the coming Inauguration, and took pictures of the sun to remind me that it had really been here.
Tears still clog my throat, partly from the persistent SAD, partly from persistent sadness, but faith has returned that I will survive. Somehow, next year I need to go south for a few days. Drugs and light boxes aren't enough. I'll plan ahead, I'll save up vacation days, and wangle an invitation to somewhere suitable.
Meanwhile, the countdown continues to another triumph of Light over Darkness. A triumph of Hope and Faith, not to mention hard work and an inspired community.
30 days till Inauguration Day.