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Emerging from the Darkness of a Difficult Year

We are beginning to see our way out of a time of sickness and death.

Gracie and Edward in the Berkshires
Credit: Katye Martens Brier

I tell writers not to start their stories with the weather unless the story is about the weather. Today I am going to exempt myself from that dictum.

We had a serious snowstorm last week here in the Berkshires with a good foot of snow still blanketing the ground. It’s beautiful in its own monochromatic way, like a cloud that fell to earth. Gracie is a fan of snow and cold weather in general. Big snow is like a day at the beach for her. I love watching her hurtling through the drifts and chasing snowflakes.

Photo of Gracie by Edward GrinnanWhich means she sees no reason not to hit the trails, though we are limited in our choices to the ones that have been tromped down by snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Fortunately, that included one of our favorites, Three Mile Hill, a ridge trail not far from the house we hit today.

Still, it wasn’t easy going, at least not for me and my two legs. Gracie plowed ahead undeterred. I’ve considered attaching a snowplow to her and putting her to work clearing driveways.

We reached a section of the trail that suddenly dislodged a memory from last summer. I stood at this very spot, lush and overgrown, and told myself to take a picture in my mind. It was the summer solstice. Remember this in the dead of winter when everything seems barren and lifeless. Indeed, I paused now, closed my eyes and called up the image. My mind filled with green and sunlight and warmth, a hi-def recollection.

After a moment we continued our snowy trek, that memory a reminder that the world is governed by miraculous symmetry. I’m writing this at the winter solstice, when the night is longest. The days now become incrementally more sunlit as the tilt of the earth shifts slowly and ineluctably. It feels as if we are emerging from the darkness of this difficult year as the shadow of the pandemic—we pray—recedes.

With vaccines and therapeutics and common sense, we are beginning to see our way out of a time of sickness and death. A year that both challenged our faith and strengthened it, that separated us but also brought us closer as we reached out and drew people near with our love and our prayers. I ask you, have you ever prayed so much in 2020? This year assures me that I will never take my fellow humans beings for granted.

I don’t know if Jesus was actually born in December; historians differ, and I don’t think it really matters. What matters was that His birth brought a holy, redemptive light into a world of darkness. May you have a blessed, bright Christmas.

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